/ Food & Drink, Sustainability

Veganuary: have you gone vegan for January?


It’s Veganuary and supermarkets and restaurant chains are steadily picking up on the growing trend for plant-based eating. Our guest author, Hannah Jolliffe, asks if you’ve been tempted?

January is fast replacing Lent as the time to cut things out of our diets. First was ‘Dry January’, encouraging us to purge our bodies of alcohol after the excesses of Christmas, and then came Veganuary, a time to turn our diets to plant-based meals.

What’s the point of Veganuary?

Slightly off-putting name aside, I like the idea of Veganuary. While I enjoy eating meat, I am mindful not to have it every day and generally consume a much higher proportion of vegetarian food. I guess that makes me a ‘flexitarian’.

However, my flexitarian diet goes out of the window at Christmas, and by January, I often feel bloated by too many roasts, cold meat platters and sausage rolls. Plus, I fear what all this meat-eating is doing to the environment.

That’s why I’ve gone vegetarian for January this year – I’d like to smugly say I’ve gone vegan, but the thought of a whole month without cheese is too much.

Supermarkets go vegan

But with veganism seemingly going mainstream, I’m now wondering if I could have managed it after all.

Supermarkets, in particular, have expanded their range of vegan products. Tesco has just launched a ‘Wicked Kitchen’ range of 18 vegan-friendly ready meals including a ‘naked’ burrito, mushroom Bolognese and a carrot pastrami-spiced wrap. Ocado has also added 90 vegan products to its dedicated vegan site this month.

But it isn’t just food that can catch you out when cutting animal products from your diet – veganism also involves careful research of drinks, including alcohol.

Luckily, supermarkets have this one covered, too – Co-op is expanding its vegan wine range to 100 products by the end of the year, with eight due to launch next month.

Restaurant chains are also getting in on the vegan act, with Pizza Express and Pizza Hut both selling vegan-friendly cheese toppings, and Wagamama offering several vegan dishes. London has even just seen the first 100% vegan pub open its doors to the public.

This vegan malarkey is sounding easier by the minute.

Cashing-in on the vegan trend?

According to The Vegan Society, there were over half a million vegans in Great Britain in 2016: three-and-a-half times as many as estimated in 2006. And last year, one in three people said they were trying to reduce their meat intake leading to more than half of UK adults adopting ‘vegan-buying behaviour’.

Clearly, these are statistics that are making supermarkets rub their hands together with glee – and, in my opinion, some appear to be taking advantage.

Take the Marks & Spencer cauliflower ‘steak’, which has now been withdrawn from sale. Priced at £2, it was essentially a slice of cauliflower with a bit of dressing and came in a lot of unnecessary packaging. A whole cauliflower generally costs a quid or less… the words rip and off spring to mind.

Going vegan

To me, eating vegan or veggie foods isn’t necessarily about dedicating our whole lives to diets free of animal products, but about reducing the amount of meat we eat and being more selective about its origin when we do.

If new vegan products on supermarket shelves help move us in this direction, then I’m all for it (minus the cauliflower steaks, of course).

This is a guest contribution by Hannah Jolliffe. All views expressed here are Hannah’s own and not necessarily also shared by Which?.

Have you gone vegan for January? Are you or have you been tempted by vegan products? How do you rate them? Could they persuade you to go wholly vegan?


I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I don’t eat a great deal of meat compared with many people. I do eat fish and had a very nice fish pie for Sunday lunch. I have not bought chicken for a few years.

I am not ready for vegan but very happy to eat vegetarian meals. I actually enjoy eating lots of vegetables, cereals etc, but milk, cheese and eggs are still essentials for me.

Since working in London I have found I am eating a lot less meat. I think this is due to the vast amount of choice – compared to my small town, which has limited choices, but a lot of butchers.

I am fascinated to learn more about vegan-friendly foods and like to try new things where possible, but I am not sure I am ready to make the full commitment. Cheese would be the hardest to give up, for me.

We do seem to have a fixation about meat. Maybe that will change. Cheese if one of the reasons that I’m not planning to go vegan.

That’s because it’s addictive due to Casomorphin which is one of the opioid compounds formed in our stomachs when we drink milk.
The reason I stopped consuming dairy products, is the unconscionable cruelty that vulnerable innocent beings have to suffer for something as trivial as palate pleasure, I couldn’t allow animals to suffer for something so selfish on my part.

The reason I consume milk is not because it is addictive but because it makes a useful contribution to my nutrient intake. I would be happy to pay more for milk if that would mean better animal husbandry. I drink milk but would not buy veal because of concern about animal welfare.

I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years so thought I would take the vegan challenge for January this year. It’s been pretty easy to follow at home, less so when eating out. The only thing I’ve really missed is halloumi and paneer, but other than that I’ve found that avoiding eggs, milk, chocolate and cheese has been relatively easy. The most frustrating thing is that lots of products contain milk or eggs unexpectedly hidden in their ingredients. I never usually eat ready meals but I did treat myself to one of Tesco’s new Wicked meals last week (masala curry with chickpeas, cauliflower, bhajis, spinach and coconut rice), and it was delicious! I also recommend Pret’s curried chickpea and mango chutney sandwich.

They sound delicious! I went to Krakow last year and there was a lot of vegan restaurants. One chain of vegan burger restaurants were very common, I saw them more than I saw McDonald’s or Burger King, which I thought was great.

If there were more eating out options for vegans,do you think you could make the switch full-time?

Patricia says:
27 January 2018

There’s no reason not to eat chocolate since many are vegan. The Coop’s own-brand orange-flavoured is my favourite, even better than Ritter Sport Halbbitter, which is no longer available in the UK.
Just read the label and watch out for butterfat as well as milk.
There’s also Booja Booja & Plamil ……

I haven’t taken on the ‘veganuary’ challenge, but I have cut back on meat consumption. I thought it would help save a bit of money on my weekly shop, instead, I’ve seen my shop go up with the extra spending on fruit and veg. I meal plan for the week so my shopping list ensures there’s no waste, but the consequence of this is that I need to go to a supermarket where I can buy individual items and not have to buy everything pre-packaged – it makes it slightly more expensive not being able to shop in Aldi 🙁

Lessismore says:
22 January 2018

I’ve tried several times to change our diet slightly. Firstly I tried to move away from the cheese sauce with everything – macaroni, potatoes and onions, cauliflower which I inherited as easy meals to make when I left home from my mother (meat was expensive) by making more tomato and onion based sauces so that I could still enjoy cheese and biscuits. We also cut out 100 things to do with mince when there was Mad Cow Disease and became more careful and thoughtful about the meat we ate. Then I tried cooking more pulses – it’s amazing how many Italian and Indian and other countries’ meals use these sometimes on their own but also sometimes with meat.

I agree that curried chickpeas are brilliant – I like them with spinach and brown basmati rice. The Eden Project have a really good version of a Middle Eastern soup with chickpeas which is made from store cupboard ingredients (and I then add spinach to wilt into it at the end – making it a meal in a bowl). I recently got around to making a lamb, flageolet beans and cherry tomato casserole that I’d been planning for months. Having followed the recipe practically to the letter I can now fiddle with it and re-write it making it simpler (putting all time it takes on the top) and taking shortcuts. Life’s too short to skin tomatoes!

There is a movement called Meat Free Mondays and I’ve found some good recipes there.. I’d find it difficult to give up roast dinners and chops with three vegetables completely. although we eat them a lot less often!

Patricia says:
27 January 2018

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I have no intention at present to become vegetarian or vegan. I would be too worried about ending up with lacking in some essential vitamin/mineral/you name it, and I don’t have the patience or inclination to become ultra careful about my diet. It doesn’t include much meat anyway (average a wee bit over once a week). If I were to change anything it would be to eat more fish. We (hubby and I) started to follow the fast diet (https://thefastdiet.co.uk/) just before Christmas, so no need to change anything in January (aren’t we smug).

I do intend, however, to forego chocolate, cheese, sweets things and alcohol (perhaps meat too, haven’t decided yet) for Lent to raise funds for mental health (not mine at the end of Lent). It will be good for me and good for the charity. (Nothing to do with Lent in particular, I’ve done this during Ramadan before, and during the month of October.)

Years ago hubby and I went to http://www.el-piano.com/ , a vegan restaurant in York and we loved it. We opted for a taster platter and everything was delicious. I wish there were an equivalent up here in Edinburgh.

I think you are right to be concerned about getting sufficient nutrients, Sophie, particularly with a vegan diet. However those who follow these diets often seem to pay attention to what they are eating, than many people.

Patricia says:
27 January 2018

The only thing you’re likely to be lacking is B12, which is easily obtainable from food fortified with it (e.g. yeast extract and some breakfast cereals) or from supplements.
Otherwise there’s not a single nutrient that you get from meat that you can’t get from plant-based food.
If in doubt have a look at the website of The Vegan Society – http://www.vegansociety.com

It’s not really a matter of intention to become Vegetarian or Vegan, it’s giving notice when faced with the unconscionable cruelty and eventual slaughter of vulnerable innocent sentient beings, that their lives are less important than palate pleasure, consider Veganism was founded in 1944 & there hasn’t been a mass extinction of Vegans, adding the vast resource of the internet & written publication, only a vegetable could effectively lack some essential vitamins/minerals, just wondered, do you actually measure & calculate your intake of nutrients/minerals/vitamins now? if you think it’s unhealthy look at the state of the health service which is overloaded with people who consume “a balanced diet” T2 D crippling the NHS basically Fat Lazy people. Processed meats (animal corpses) classed as Class 1 Carnicogen,

Vegan for Ethical reasons to prevent violence & exploitation of Vulnerable Species reducing Destruction of Marine eco systems Global Environmental Degradation including climate change, drought, deforestation, mass extinction, pollution, human poverty, antibiotic resistance

Vegans are people who align their actions with our stance against animal cruelty. Vegan activists also spread the word with the hope that compassionate & critically thinking people will value the truth enough to change for the animals.

While there are countless nuanced elements worth addressing & evaluating, the message at the heart of the vegan ideology is simple: animals are feeling & intelligent beings, not consumable objects or products—where possible, humans should strive to respect their right to life.

There’s a lot to evaluate, but for those whose moral compass is true, there is only one way to combat the injustice that’s currently meted out to animals, & even a slight amount of critical thinking aligned with compassion should lead anyone to the only ethical conclusion.

A lot of people I know who have decided to follow a vegan diet do it for health reasons, as well moral reasons, but if you are looking to improve your health this year we’ve got a guide on how to boost your heart health: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/01/six-ways-to-boost-your-heart-health-in-2018/

Lessismore says:
25 January 2018

I’ve had a look at your link to boosting heart health and it is useful to check our family’s progress on these dietary changes. By not eating much processed food we have reduced our salt intake a lot. I think that may have been where we started as we then simplified what we ate to avoid it. Like sugar it is better left out or limited in lots of things as extra can be added at the table – but it can’t be taken out!

One question though – I wonder what your dietitian’s actual definition of “sweets” is? Does she mean puddings and desserts by this? We only eat those in a blue moon and they are easier to avoid than the confectionery that anyone else has brought into the house! We tend to have a piece of fruit.

Lessismore says:
25 January 2018

Oh I forgot how wearisome it is to have to be unBritish and speak out and say that there is something wrong when trailing kids in a gastropub/restaurant when the French fries are too salty and the butter salty but it is worse later when you regret not having said something. I’ll now have to remember next time to say something before it arrives at the table (for the French fries!). You can bet that our party was not alone in finding this.

I attended an event at an expensive venue and the soup was very salty, probably more noticeable because I don’t use a lot of salt. What matters more is overall intake and I expect that all of us will eat unhealthy food from time to time. I wonder if as a nation we are eating out more than is good for our health.

Just to clear up a small discrepancy, if you embrace Veganism, it is by definition for ethical reasons, if you cut out consumption of animal products for health, you are Plant Based, there is a big distinction.

Non-meat products have come a long way since everything was made with soya, quorn or tofu. The main veg in them always seemed to be red or green peppers which I avoid as they repeat dreadfully on me. Having tried a few of them in the early days, decided they were not for me.

But these days, there are some great meat-free products around if you are not into making them from scratch. The new Tesco range sounds interesting so will have to give some of them a go starting with the Kitchen Muay Thai Curry that happily does not contain red or green peppers.

We will not be giving up meat, but often have eggs, cheese or fish instead. We have given up going to our local Indian restaurant as the prices have gone astronomical (over £70 for a meal for 2 – 2 poppadoms, 2 main courses, one rice and 2 drinks each) so I have started making our own curries. I can do a good lamb & spinach, but am on the lookout for a good vegetable curry next.

One thing I find funny with some non-meat products is their names, e.g. chicken style nuggets, bacon style rashers, steak style pies. I have often wondered if vegetarians/vegans have a problem with these names.

I was vegetarian for 16 years. It is rather concerning that they have to name their products after meat to make it seem interesting to those that ate meat. It was never an issue for me but the concern is there as chicken or bacon style food do not taste anything like the meat products (well I don’t think so)

It should be more concering that despite massive resources of information, that people would even consider supporting the unnecessary explotation of vulnerable sentient beings.
As to the naming of Vegan products as meat, Bacon Pork, Ham aren’t meat, they’re euphemism for PIG CORPSE.
Taste & acceptance of food products is a cultural/tradition concept, carried out by most of civilization, partly because of the ignorance of the majority who regard critical thinking as something from Mars.

Lessismore says:
25 January 2018

There are so many options for vegetarian and vegan food with curries! The biggest problem we always found with eating a curry out when there are just two is it is difficult to choose only a little as the side dishes (why do I think that the vegetable dishes should be side dishes?) are so good. We always end up bringing the remainder home – the restaurant knows us and there is no problem and if more of us did this then it would be easier. I tend to eat it for lunch the next day and am happy to eat it cold. With a group of friends you can share all the dishes so you get to find out which you like – although it is best to stipulate this at the start of a meal! The other problem we find with eating curries out or getting take-aways is the amount of oil that has to be poured off the vegetables in particular – this in itself is a good reason to try making some at home – or maybe your curry house is more expensive because it is more discerning like this.

Chickpea and spinach is a very easy vegetarian favourite. Cauliflowers at the moment only cost about £1 and there are some interesting recipes for roasting them with spices around (don’t waste all that stem – peel it) but I rather prefer one dish that has both protein and veg. Must have another go with kale!

I also think it is a good idea to try and eat produce seasonally although I don’t always succeed especially when on a use-it-up mission. http://www.eattheseasons.co.uk/
gives good help on this.

Wow! There’s a lot to think about there, and it is definitely tempting me to make a vegetarian curry. I’m not sold on kale yet, but I think the more I eat it the more I like it.

That site looks very helpful – I will have to keep it bookmarked 🙂

Lessismore says:
25 January 2018

I baked some aubergines with miso the day before yesterday which was a new one for me as I was deliberately trying a vegan recipe. Miso I’ve never used before and it is very salty and I put too much on – probably my fault! I hate recipes that don’t measure small amounts with spoons as who wants to drag the weighing scales out for 200g when you are tired and hungry so I tried to wing it looking at the amount in a full jar and estimating. However the completed recipe was really easy and I’ll try it again. What was great was that aubergine is one of those vegetables that soak up oil and this avoided nearly any of that. Not sure where to find the protein in that meal though!

Miso is best used in soups and stews – then it’s delicious. I mix it with water to make it more liquid before adding a couple of spoonfuls to the soup.

Jim Singleton says:
27 January 2018

Whilst I am not veggie or vegan, my partner is veggie, so eat veggie meals at home, mainly made from scratch, and delicious. However, when eating out, we have noticed for the past few years, an obsession with goat’s cheese (which neither of us like!). We were hoping it would go the same way as vegetable lasagne and cheese & broccoli pie, the previous only options available in many places. Why can’t pub/restaurant chefs be more imaginative with their veggie/vegan meals? Some of them are, and these are the ones we tend to go to (and all credit to them). The others just seem to have either no imagination, or just can’t be bothered to do anything other than make a token gesture ie lazy!

When deciding what the best diet is for you, please study the literature because there is so much self-interest and preservation of face by individuals, and individuals representing the dietetic societies who appear to be closely connected to the food industry.
However, there are two recent very large studies comparing the health of vegetarians/vegans and meat-eaters. The first, the UK 2015 Oxford EPIC study looked at the data from 60,000 people and the second, the Australian 2017 45 and Up study looked at 250,000 people.
These numbers dwarf all other studies, particularly the Aussie study. Its finding seems to suggest that vegetarian and semi-vegetarian diets far from decreasing mortality actually increased it by 10 – 15% compared to regular meat eaters, whilst eating a pescatarian diet seemed to reduce mortality by 20%. However the error bars are large and thus the apparent differences are non-significant. That said, the UK study also found the highest (non-significant) mortality among the vegans, and the lowest (also non-significant) mortality among the fish eaters.
An easy way to gain entry into these studies is to visit the Rosemary Cottage Clinic site – https://rosemarycottageclinic.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/even-in-the-land-of-barbies-and-beer-vegetarians-dont-live-longer/
I see that some people above believe that reducing salt intake is good for you – again please take a look at the leader of the very large PURE study. Using the results of this study, he once again shows that the danger to health comes from the digestion of carbohydrate and not fat and that the salt recommendation guidelines are too low. If my memory is correct he also states that there are many studies now showing the same thing regarding salt. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwGteseHyas

I am afraid that the nutritional field is simply littered with people taking a guess, for example, in the 1980s the nutritional recommendations were changed without carrying out any scientific research and it was recommended that our dietary fat content should be reduced from 40 to 30% and our carbohydrate content increased from 40 to 60%. The result has been the same in all the countries that took on board this poor advice. For example, in the USA, in 1985, most states reported that the level of obesity was between 0 to 10% with the highest states going over 10% yet by 2014, the lowest state registered above 20% and the highest above 35%. In step with this the number of type 2 diabetics also has risen alarmingly.
Yet what nutritional advice is still offered even though the treatment of type 2 diabetes is threatening to bankrupt the NHS and the life expectancy of the poor middle-aged patient who continues to follow NHS dietary advice is a reduction of about 12 years of life, accompanied by blindness/kidney failure/limb amputations/coronary heart disease/cancer/Alzheimer’s?
Yes, you have guessed it – keep on doing the same thing. Fortunately, there are sites on the web that offer sensible dietary advice.
I worked on a dairy farm during my holidays for quite a few years and my friend was brought up on an adjacent farm. Since the livelihoods of the farmers relied on their stock, the animals were treated well. I will remain a meat eater since I cannot see any reason not to be – but everyone must chose a diet that suits them – my only wish is that consumers would do their own research and not follow the so-called experts who are causing absolute havoc.

I am not aware of any advantage of eating meat every day, and cutting down meat consumption would have major environmental benefits.

Studies on humans are difficult because there are so many factors involved. If it can be demonstrated that the higher mortality rate for vegans is related to poor nutritional status that would be useful information but looking at diet alone may not be helpful.

Hi Dr Charlie,

I see your post has appeared as the links have now been passed.

Is NHS advice to diabetics still bad? My husband (not overweight) was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2002 but not quite bad enough for medication. We asked to see a dietician and wrote down everything we could think of that he consumed, meals, snacks and drinks. The NHS dietician said our diet was good but to cut out orange juice for breakfast. And that was it…. He does get his annual checks though.

Back in 2002, I just happened to see an advert for a free BG tester that showed how bad our diet really was for him. With research, the diabetes.co.uk forum and major changes in diet, he is still diet-controlled. Every diabetic should be given a BG tester otherwise how can they manage their condition? I am sure it would save the NHS a fortune in the long run.

I don’t think that the reports mentioned eating meat once a day, but I don’t think there is a problem with that – or in fact – several times a day. With reference to the two reports I mentioned, I would just like to add that all epidemiological studies can only act as pointers – I not sure why you believe that these very recent and extremely large ones suffer more than others – but I would be happy to hear if you have found specific problems with them.
Neither do I see that there is a problem environmentally. In nature, grasslands are common and help to feed herds of herbivores since their modified stomach or enlarged colon possess the structures and microorganisms that convert the plant cellulose etc into fatty acids – the actual major food for the herbivore itself. Please note humans possess neither the gut structure nor microorganisms to carry out this feat. We simply breakdown the readily digestible starches to glucose leading to spikes of blood glucose that in turn leads to spikes of the storage hormone, insulin. This hormone then tells the adipose tissue to take up and hold onto any available fat and instructs the liver to convert excess glucose to even more fat which is excreted into the blood stream and again stored in the adipose tissue.
So prairies/savanna/grassland provides the food for herbivores and they in turn provide food for their predators.
Compare this with the totally unnatural ploughing up of the soil surface over vast acreages – then adding man-made fertilisers by the ton and then toxic man-made pesticides by the ton. I don’t find that very environmentally friendly, since many animals are killed by ploughing, tilling and harvesting; and the soil is being depleted of micronutrients that are vital for the working of our enzymes and thus metabolism, and the soil’s organic matter is also being depleted. There are only so many cycles of repeated cropping that can occur before the land becomes a dust bowl. In addition, the rapid run off of the water soluble fertilisers can be a danger to nearby water courses. Also there is the consideration of all the fuel that is needed to carry out all the agricultural operations and generate and transport the fertilisers and pesticides.
So I will stick to the natural way – the way that we have evolved over the last 5 million years. Over this period we separated from our more vegetarian fellow apes and lost the enlarged colon and microorganisms and became a meat eater – consuming a concentrated food source in order to fuel our fuel-hungry large brain – 3 times larger (w/w) than a great ape and around 10 times large than other animals.
So from my point of view, we have evolved to eat fatty meat and it is the inclusion of plant materials, for example, grains that have led to the recent explosion in obesity, type 2 diabetes, CHD, cancer etc. You could say that the problem started with the ability to grow grains around 10,000 years ago and then the untested revision of our dietary recommendations in the 1980s was the last straw.

If I can pick up on the point in your final paragraph, there are other factors to consider regarding obesity and other problems that have become all too familiar. Many of us can afford more food, we can buy it in bulk, we can store more thanks to fridges and freezers and there is a vast amount of food that is ready to eat or just has to be heated. Many eat out regularly and portion sizes can be rather large – which is often used as a way of attracting custom. I am not challenging your views but I don’t think we can usefully compare what existed early in the evolution of man to what happens at the present time.


I’m so pleased to hear that your husband is controlling his type 2 diabetes with diet and that 15 years ago you obtained a glucose monitor that allowed you to see the spikes that occurred when he ate carbohydrate and so take avoiding action. I think that everyone should buy a monitor and test themselves 1 hour after a meal and hope that their reading is below 7.5 – if it is not then I personally would use carb restriction.

I think until very recently, the “official advice” was still to take 60% of calories in the form of carbohydrate. It was a bit like going in to see the medic with lead poisoning and (s)he saying – keep on taking the poison and we will give you something that will hopefully lead to its excretion – madness.

However, with people thinking for themselves and visiting the unofficial but extremely useful sites like Diabetes.co.uk, it has force the hand of the establishment so that even Diabetes.org.uk indicate that the low carb diet is effective in controlling type 2 diabetes/ and reducing weight and heart disease. However, instead of making this centre stage it is quite well hidden and spoiled by saying it is not suitable for everyone and people should reduce red meat consumption and replace saturated with unsaturated fat – again where is the evidence for this nonsense.

However, no apologies are given for all their absolutely stupid advice that has caused so much suffering post the change in dietary recommendations.

If you have not come across the book by Joseph Kraft, please read it. On the front cover it says – “Should Everyone be Tested? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Only those concerned about their future!”

Dr Charlie, first type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder which differentiates it from type 2 and second, due to its extremely high price, meat is beyond many people’s pockets and those fortunate enough to be able
to eat meat every day, it is recommended they choose both white and red with a preference for white due to its lower cholesterol and saturated fat content. The Japanese, whose diet mostly consists of fish and rice, are well known for their longevity.

Humans started eating meat when they were forced to go out and catch it, burning up more calories than they were able to eat in the process but providing them with sufficient protein to carry out the manual labour necessary for their very survival without the mechanical and technological means that exist today.

I lived on a farm in the Pennine District for 2 years and
being an animal lover, I used to get very upset by being kept awake at nighttime by mother cows constantly mooing for their newly born bull calves that had been taken away and loaded onto a lorry for slaughter to be made into veal the day before. Small children are taken on trips to farms and become very excited by the big fat mother pig feeding numerous piglets and then go home to feed on sausages and chips for tea!

Animals are conscious beings that are capable of feeling emotions and physical pain, although perhaps not to the same degree as humans. Farmers are an essential part of the food productivity chain which is now scientically managed to include financial subsidies to enable them to keep afloat and cope with the constant pressures from supermarkets, but most come from past generations of farmers and are immune to the commodification of animals and who, at the end of the day, provide a living for themselves and a lucrative meal for the meat eaters

Am I a vegetarian? No I am not, but I eat mostly white meat and fish with red meat about once a week, but Dr
Charlie, if you can afford to eat meat every day then go ahead and enjoy, as long as the people who prefer a veggie diet can derive just as much pleasure from eating their greens as you do your herbivores 🙂


Sorry, but I think you can link our present predicament with our evolutionary past. If you evolve over millions of years so that your principle food is animal meat/offal then the biochemical/hormonal mechanisms are attuned to give greatest efficiency. If then after this period of adaption, you introduce grains – as was the case 10,000 years ago with the introduction of arable farming – there will be a response – and that can be seen by anthropologists with the reduction of bone size and strength, and the introduction of the western diseases (again not seen in those peoples who maintained their hunter gather life style). If you then stipulate, as occurred in the 1980s, that our diet should be made up of even larger amounts of carbohydrate – constituting 60% of energy needs – you might again expect an immediate response. And there was an immediate response in all of the countries that introduced the food pyramid/plate. I gave the official figures for the USA but I will repeat them because they are so staggering –

In 1985, most states reported that the level of obesity was between 0 to 10% with the highest states going over 10% yet by 2014, the lowest state registered above 20% and the highest above 35%. In step with this the number of type 2 diabetics also has risen alarmingly.

Now I believe that the Americans possessed fridges and freezers before 1980 and I think they were also wealthy enough to buy whatever food they wanted (well obviously within reason) – so I would exclude wealth and I believe that this is supported by fact that the poorest in the population are the most likely to be obese – not the wealthiest.

I would agree with you that often portion sizes have increased. I won’t go into the research that shows that carbohydrates are addictive, but I will mention that lots of people have studied weight loss and compared diets and they have always found that people following the Low Carbohydrate/High Fat (LC/HF) diet lost more weight than those following the High Carbohydrate/Low Fat (HC/LF) diet. Two interesting points – firstly in many of these trials the people on the LC/HF diet were allowed to eat as much as they liked whilst the people on the HC/LF were calorie restricted; and secondly, the weight loss was much more likely to be maintained on the LC/HF diet that the HC/LF diet – presumably because it is hard to resist hunger. On the other hand people on the LC/HF diet, with its emphasis on fat and protein find that they feel fuller and can go without snacks etc between meals. The crash in blood sugar after a carb meal ensures that carb snacks are needed frequently.

We tend to think of plants as benign entities, lovely garden flowers and beautiful forest trees. Whilst plants can certainly be beautiful, it must be remembered that any successful plant species must have developed formidable protective weapons. Since, plants are static they must evolve mechanisms other than flight and fight to prevent their destruction by grazers, insects, fungi and microorganisms etc. And one of the major defense mechanisms is chemical warfare through the production of a whole battery of unpleasant compounds. Well known ones are usually the most potent, like strychnine and atropine, give rise to acute toxicity that is so severe that death in humans can be induced within hours. But there are many, many more that possess the ability to bring about long-term chronic toxicity.
The upshot is that humans can only tolerate about 2% of plant species yet we are constantly told – if its plant based, it must be healthy. Yet even common food plants like wheat are packed full of harmful chemicals which may not kill you instantly but give rise to chronic autoimmune diseases. We know from the work of Alessio Fasano that the protein gluten, through it action on the hormone, zonulin, in the intestine forms a leaky gut, through which partially degraded proteins enter the blood stream. The body’s response is to form antibodies against them but unfortunately, some of these antibodies in some people are able to interact specifically with one their normal body proteins which may be situated in any of their tissues. This, of course, leads to a variety of diseases – for example – if the gut cells are attacked then one of the related bowel diseases (coeliac, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis) results, if the joints – rheumatoid arthritis, if the skin – psoriasis, if the liver – autoimmune liver disease, if the hair follicles – alopecia, if the spine – ankylosing spondylitis, if the myelin sheath of nerve cells in the brain or spinal cord – MS, if the actual neurons in the brain or spinal column – a motor neuron disease eg amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Parkinson’s disease with loss of movement and memory (with the destruction of cells responsible for the secretion of the neurotransmitter – dopamine), if the thyroid – autoimmune thyroid disease etc. And there are other problems that may go away or decrease on a gluten free diet, such as, lupus, migraine, chronic fatigue, attention deficit etc, etc.
The accumulative effect of these autoimmune diseases has been calculated and they are now thought to be the third largest killer of humans.
In a recent book by Tom O’Bryan MD (Autoimmune Fix), he provides the names of the 159 separate autoimmune diseases listed by the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association; and points out that the American National Institutes of Health now states that although some of the 159 diseases are rare, collectively they affect around 8% of the population – ie around 24 million Americans – and that is only the number who have been diagnosed!
Again with the recommendation to eat more grains the occurrence of these diseases has risen, for example, coeliac disease has risen 4 fold over the last 40 years and all Italian children are now tested for the disease.
You can go on and on about plant products, for example, plant oils that contain a preponderance of omega 6 double bonds over omega 3 that makes them inflammatory and the number of double bonds makes them much more liable to be attacked by heat and free radicals.
Plants are not cuddly, fuzzy creatures – they protect themselves – otherwise they do not survive.

I can relate to most of your points having worked in microbial biochemistry alongside colleagues with more medical interests. I would be happier if we focus on what has happened in more recent history, such as within out lifetimes, and also took account of influences such as those I mentioned. The fact that we now have some strict vegans and others who follow the type of diet you suggest will make it easier to carry out objective scientific studies, and that’s what I’m keen to see.

I totally respect your desire not eat animals if you so wish – what I object to is the pressure put on individuals by vegetarians that they should not eat meat – not to mention their misplaced virtue signalling. I cannot see the distinction between killing animals for food and killing animals by ploughing, tilling and harvesting food. Nor the fact that environmentally, the continued ploughing and tilling of land for crop production is unsustainable. In addition, there is no way around eating the toxic residues that persist in these commercially grown crops.

There is now no question about the safety of saturated fats and although they may raise cholesterol many studies have shown that cholesterol is protective especial for the over 60s – this was even known in the 1980s in the Framingham study but its release was suppressed until quite recently. I would be really scared if my total went below 5 and terrified if it went below 4 since the WHO figures show that the death rate rises very, very steeply from cancer and infections.

For most people, the calories in vs calories out explanation of obesity is simply incorrect we have very sophisticated hormone mechanisms that maintain weight – if – the consumption of carbohydrates is kept in check. If it is not restrained then the only other way is starvation – which is difficult to maintain and leads to yo-yo dieting.

When you keep hearing these – sorry to say it but worn out theories – it reminds me of the 1960s when the tobacco industry continued to say that their products were safe – even when all the evidence was stacked up against them. It suits the mighty food corporations who sponsor various professional societies around the world to get consumers to believe that they are at fault and if only they could control themselves they would look like Twiggy.

I don’t want to get into costs because that could soon become personal – but I sometimes look into trolleys in the supermarket and wonder what could be purchased instead of the loads of biscuits, crisps, cakes, sweets, fizzy drinks, bread etc. Also when I look at the price of one take away, I often think I could buy a chicken for that price and feed four to six people. I agree it would be very expensive to eat fillet steak for every meal, but I’m sure that you will know that there are many much cheaper cuts of meat that are tastier and just as nutritious. And of course there is liver and kidney which is cheap and provides an abundance of vitamins and minerals. I also eat lots of eggs and fish and again, fish can cost a fortune or modest amount. So, in fact, I would turn your argument around and say that because we no longer have a desire to consume snacks, cakes, biscuits, sweets, crisps, desserts and fizzy drinks (lager excepted of course) our weekly food bill is very modest.

Dr Charlie,

Your research into carbohydrates is inconclusive as you fail to mention that gluten intolerance mostly affects people with the HLA DQ variant gene who usually present with another autoimmune disease and also that Americans ingest genetically modified wheat on a daily basis, thankfully still banned in the UK but still undergoing trials I believe.

However, the gluten eaten here is not quite the same as our grandparents ate. Although not technically genetically modified, gluten has nevertheless been significantly hybridized and deaminated over the years, processes that have rendered it inflammatory to humans.
Unlike genetic modification, which either inserts or deletes genes, hybridization creates a new protein by combining different strains of wheat. This can alter a protein sequence by as much as 5 percent, making it quite different from the original source.

Deamidation, which is used extensively in the food processing industry, has also made gluten more immune reactive. Deamidation uses acids or enzymes to make gluten water soluble (it is normally only soluble in alcohol), so it mixes more easily with other foods. Although deamidation makes wheat easier to use it has been shown to create a severe immune response in people. A double-blinded placebo-controlled study found subjects did not react to native wheat flour but reacted severely to deaminated wheat. The researchers concluded deamidation generates new substances that activate the immune system. Another study published in The European Journal of Inflammation concluded deaminated gluten is a new food compound and may be the major cause of hidden inflammatory responses.

The hybridization and deamidation of wheat appear to play a role not only in the sharp increases of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, but also in inflammation, degeneration and autoimmunity of the brain and neurological system. I could provide a list of disorders and diseases but I don’t think, for obvious reasons, that would be appropriate here.

The whole point being, whilst I accept too much carbohydrate is an unhealthy choice, for reasons already quoted, it essentially is the quality of wheat that goes into the processing of food that is more important and potentially detrimental to ones health. I have been on this earth long enough to realise that a balanced diet is the best option and the main reason for living to the great age I am.

Dr Charlie, a biochemist says: There is now no question about the safety of saturated fats and although they may raise cholesterol many studies have shown that cholesterol is protective especial for the over 60s – this was even known in the 1980s in the Framingham study but its release was suppressed until quite recently.

In fact the Framingham research is thought to be flawed following, as it did, “an unrepresentative group of predominantly white men and women who were at high risk for heart disease for non-dietary reasons such as smoking.”. And I’ve known about it for many years, so I don’t believe it was suppressed.

The real problem is that conducting studies on people over a long period of time is inevitably fraught; the Keys research was criticised for “cherry-picking data to support his hypothesis, ignoring countries such as France which had high-fat diets but low rates of heart disease. The strongest evidence in favour of a low-fat diet came from Crete, but it transpired that Keys had recorded some food intake data there during Lent, a time when Greek people traditionally avoid meat and cheese, so he may have underestimated their normal fat intake.”

So I think it’s premature to suggest that we’ve all been misled for years. I think the issue remains that we need a great deal more research because there’s simply too much we don’t yet understand about heart attacks and cardio-vascular disease.


I’m not sure that you meant to but you seem to be backing me up by saying that glutens are detrimental to health and have become much more potent in stimulating autoimmune diseases over the last century.

I was only using glutens as an example to show that plants because they are trying to protect themselves from predation have a battery of chemicals that are detrimental to our health. And I was only using toxic plant products as an example of the many problems that should be considered by anyone thinking of switching to a vegan diet.

There seems to be a concerted effort to push people towards vegetarianism/veganism using the message that anything derived from plants is healthy, for example, use polyunsaturated vegetable oils for cooking when it is known that these omega 6 fats are unhealthy for several reasons.

I obviously do not know in detail what you consider a balance diet to be but from what you have previously said it not a vegan diet; and equally obviously, you have a background in science. Many other people joining or following the conversation must be in the same position – yet no one else has said – hold on a minute, there are downsides to the vegan diet.

I realise that readers of Which wish to be considerate, but there are also downsides to this position. You may have read in yesterday’s paper that farmers were receiving death threats from vegan activists and that meat industry representatives were holding meetings with the anti-terrorism police. We all know what happens when bully boys get their way – tofu anyone (sorry not a clue what tofu is – so hope it’s appropriate).

By the way, I’m not a spring chicken either!

The opportunity to providing alternative and balancing opinions is what Which? Convo is about. I know little about tofu myself but remember that fermentation is supposed to destroy the bean lectins that could otherwise cause us problems. I agree about plants protecting themselves, and even humble bacteria do it.

Dr Charlie,

All living things have an innate desire to protect themselves from predators, including humans whose biggest threat now has become each other. That right is denied to agriculturally raised animals whose destiny has already been decided even before birth, but then they too are well known for their contribution to polluting the atmosphere and global warming by the amount of
methane gas (CO2) they collectively emit into the atmosphere.

My previous posting was meant to highlight the susceptibility of some to modified grains and the apparent ability of others to tolerate them, at least in the interim period until further research exposes the real causes behind the increase in symptomatic type ailments such as IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders.

I am, however, more interested in the reasons why people choose not to eat meat, some I have already attempted to portray. A close relative used to be a vegetarian for a while due to her love of animals until she almost died from anaemia and granulomatosis, a severe autoimmune disorder that attacks all of the bodies internal organs. She was advised by the consultant who saved her to revert to eating meat again, which she now does along with her vegetables.

I don’t believe that young growing children should be given a strict vegan diet, but if adults decide to try it, for reasons only they themselves know about then so be it, but my advice to anyone thinking of becoming pregnant in the near future is to discuss it with their GP first.

My interpretation of a balanced diet by the way, quite simply consists of meat and three veg on a daily basis. Tofu is off the menu as it contains soya, not recommended for people with thyroid problems as it is thought to interfere with their medication.

Sorry to take so long to reply but your comments took some time to digest and respond to. I’ll break up my response into two parts – the first relating to climate change and the second relating to diet.

I used to believe in catastrophic man-made climate change – CMCC – until about 10 years ago. However, climategate opened many people’s eyes and give them a desire to find out what was going on. So, when I did some research for myself, I found, like the current nutritional advice, that the research backing up the proposals was just not there – in fact – it was worse than that since the scientists who actually go out there and measured things had produced evidence that completely destroyed the arguments put forward by the UN and its satellite the IPCC – please remember that these two bodies are made up of politicians, not scientists and the final reports of the IPCC are reviewed and “corrected” by politicians/political nominees before release.

When I looked I could find absolutely no evidence to support catastrophic man-made climate change. However, what you do find is that the Earth’s temperate has been in flux particularly over the last 3 million years as indicated below.

Firstly, even in our present interglacial period, the temperatures have fluctuated – producing warm periods every 1,000 years or so and so we have the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) around 1,000 years ago; the Roman WP around 2000 years ago; and Minoan WP around 3,000 years ago. In between, came the cooler periods like the Little Ice Age(LIA). The LIA lasted from about 1600 to 1800 when ice-fairs where held on the ice of the Thames and coaches and horses could be safely driven across it. The continental climate on the Continent ensured that they had even more severe cold – birds fell from trees, animals died in stables, unwary travellers died at the road side, the warm seasons were curtailed and crops failed, and because it had to be the fault of humans, around 500/1,000 witches were sacrificed. On the other hand, in the MWP, grapes were grown in England and Greenland was settled.

So it is known that temperatures do vary, and a depiction of the temperature changes over the last 1000 years was given in the first IPCC report, and it showed the temperature during the MWP to be warmer than today – needless to say this figure was never included or referred to again.

Also expunged from history is the term used to depict a time of about 6,000 years ago (about half way through our current interglacial – assuming it will last the average length of time of about 12/14000 years) – it was called the Holocene Maximum, in other words, the maximum temperature that occurred during the current interglacial occurred around 6,000 years ago – again this term was removed to save embarrassing questions.
If you go back farther, the last two interglacials (occurring around 100,000 and 200.000 years ago) were both warmer than the current interglacial.

If you go back further still, you find that the ice ages began about 3 million years ago, when the temperature of the Earth dropped about 2/3 degrees C. In other words, the interglacials are 2/3 degrees C below the previous temperature (which again lasted for around 3 million years) and the glacials are about 10/12 degrees below the previous temperature.

So we live in the time of the ice ages, when our current temperature is below that reached earlier in our current interglacial period – the Holocene Maximum, and the Holocene Maximum is below that reached in recent interglacials, and the temperature of these interglacials is 2/3 degrees below that reached prior to the period of the ice-ages. In other words the temperature of the Earth has gone down – not up.

Yet we are told that the current temperatures are unique and we are at a tipping point!
If you look at the concentration of CO2, 500 million years ago the atmospheric levels were above 5,000 ppm. They have slowly fallen over the intervening time down to around 300 ppm and now stand at around 400 ppm.

So for most of the last 500 million years the atmospheric CO2 has been far, far above the current level. But, yet again we are told we are at a tipping point!

So on what does the IPCC put its faith – on man-made computer models – even worse on averaging the results of wildly different climate models run in many countries? Each model is based on the factors favoured by the modeller and the weight placed on each of their selected factors. Since there is dispute about which factors to use and their weigh – it is not surprising that each model gives a different result and the average shows no relation to reality – since it shows a rising trend that is much faster than the actual temperature records.

On the other hand, when we do know all the factors and how they interact, then when the computer people put the data into their computers – one answer should come out and it should mimic the actual temperature changes as they occur; and if the programme is put into reverse it should give an accurate plot of the temperatures over the last couple of centuries.

You could come back and say yes that is all very well but the Earth’s temperature is rising – however, that is what you would expect ie after the recent warm periods there was a cooling followed by a warming – so after the MWP came the cooling of the LIA and then the warming to near the that of the MWP. After which it will again tip towards the next little ice age or since it is about time – a proper ice age when Scotland will again be covered in a 1 kilometer thick ice sheet which may extend so far down the UK that, as previously, it changed the course of the Thames. The Inuit would live along the south coast of England and – oh irony – Britons would be demanding refuge on the Continent.

We have had 18 ice ages in the last 2.5 million years and if a more recent pattern is repeated yet again, after 85,000 years of glaciation the Earth will warm up, and the ice sheets will melt sufficiently to flood the land bridge joining us to the Continent. So 87018 AD could be a significant year for the UK when it reappears from under the ice.

One final point, if you believe that the UN/IPCC is some form of scientific, impartial body, please read the recent book by Donna Lafranboise – “The Delinquent Teenager – Who Was Taken For The World’s Top Climate Expert”. It really is quite shocking and you think – why do they not sue her if it is not all true. But the answer is that they do not want any discussion, particularly in a court, for the same reason that the so called climate experts for CMCC will not debate with those who challenge their unproven theory – people would hear the actual truth about the climate. As a scientist, I’ve never known of a case where another scientist has refused to an open debate if they believe that they have got the necessary factual evidence.

It’s important we don’t wander too far into detailed and hyper-specialist constructs of climate change and I, too, did a lot of research, but somehow arrived at different opinions to yourself.

No scientist would use phrases such as “the research backing up the proposals was just not there – in fact – it was worse than that since the scientists who actually go out there and measured things had produced evidence that completely destroyed the arguments put forward by the UN and its satellite the IPCC. Science – and climate change perhaps most of all – cannot be debated in absolutes. There is far too much that is currently unknown or uncertain, and a great many factors are involved – not least being sun spots, CO2, orbital mechanics and climate patterns historically.

Two points; the MWP which you hint “showed the temperature during the MWP to be warmer than today – needless to say this figure was never included or referred to again.” is incorrect on two fronts: the global mean at that time was almost certainly similar to today; although parts were warmer, other parts were cooler. And the figures are freely available. There’s no conspiracy.

The Holocene Maximum (also known as the Holocene Climate Optimum) was a period of warming, but that warming appeared to decrease rapidly with latitude so that essentially no marked increase of temperatures was recorded globally, as southern attitudes seem to have cooled rapidly.

It’s also true that over the Earth’s history, there are times where atmospheric CO2 was higher than current levels. Intriguingly, the planet experienced widespread regions of glaciation during some of those periods. Atmospheric CO2 levels have reached spectacular values in the deep past, possibly topping over 5000 ppm in the late Ordovician around 440 million years ago. However, solar activity also falls as you go further back. In the early Phanerozoic, solar output was about 4% less than current levels. The combined net effect from CO2 and solar variations seemed to have maintained a moderate global temperature in general.

The science behind climate change is extremely complex and very difficult to comprehend. But we do know that rock weathering decreases CO2, while volcanic activity increases it. The geologic record contains a treasure trove of ‘alternative Earths’ that allow scientists to study how the various components of the Earth system respond to a range of climatic forcing.”Past periods of higher CO2 do not contradict the notion that CO2 warms global temperatures. On the contrary, they confirm the close coupling between CO2 and climate.”

Finally, you reference Donna Lafranboise’s book, which climate deniers have seized on with great glee and which media such as the Sun have warmly welcomed. But is what she writes true?

She’s scathing about the IPCC in her £9.99 book, which is naturally earning her a lot of money, which alone makes me wonder about her motives.

Her own research, however, is inaccurate: one of the grad students, for example, mentioned in the book as “earning his master’s [of public health] only two years earlier,” already had a MD in occupational/environmental and family medicine, while her criticisms of the panel’s efforts to establish “diversity,” “gender balance,” and proportionate “regional representation” also seem problematic, with her comparison between Greenpeace members and vampires being mostly puzzling. And if she makes one of her main criticisms that the IPCC relies on postgrad work for its evidence, as her most advanced degree is a BA, by her own criteria wouldn’t she have to regard the material in her own book as suspect because of her own educational achievements?

I believe someone who calls green charities “evil and dangerous” and talks of “Vampires” can’t be taken seriously – which is probably why no one’s bothered taking her to court. It would just be too cruel.

The reason I’ve gone into such detail is that I believe there is immense danger in attempting to appear scientific and then condemning research and the issues surrounding climate change, using scientific terminology in the hope that readers will only swallow the conclusions, without checking the details. In fact, very similar to what Donna Lafranboise claims the IPCC does…

I am not sure what climate change has to do with veganuary but Ian’s research into historical fluctuations in global temperature seems to provide elements of a debatable nature more fitting over in The Lobby.

Most scientific studies are subject to changes over time and fads about what people put into their systems come and go according to media hype and pharmaceutical and supermarket promotional events. One example is the cholesterol scandal when patients were unnecessarily prescribed statins when levels over 5 were recorded, until further research discovered the importance of sustaining a healthy balance between both HDL and LDL

However there are always exceptions to the rule, mainly due to the uniqueness of the human genome and the inherited make up of each and everyone and how we respond to environmental changes over time.

I think Dr. Alessio Fasano’s 15 years of scientific studies and the relationship between the autoimmune system and the gut is highly commendable and I found his lectures on the workings of the “2nd brain” most informative.

I would particularly recommend his lecture on ‘The Link Between Gluten Sensitivity, Auto-immune Diseases and the Leaky Gut’ @YouTube.com to anyone interested in changing their diet, and more importantly perhaps, with an inherited autoimmune disorder. His full accreditation into his authenticity, for the sceptics, can be found @ en.m.wikipedia.org – Alessio Fosano.

Beryl – Part 2

I agree with you that animals should be treated with respect and I would be absolutely against the feedlot system– not only is it unnatural, but artificial feed affects the ultimate product and changes the composition of the essential fats – important since our ability to biosynthesise them is either limited or non-existent.

But again I will ask –
how is it possible to feed a population in a vegan way, since you can neither kill animals for food, nor use large farm machinery to plough, till or harvest the monocrops; and
since the repeated growth of these monocrops leads to the destruction of soils, how can this totally unnatural method be sustained?

It is often said that raising livestock is unsustainable, yet animals grazing on grasslands has been occurring for millions of years – it is the natural way and soil structure remains intact.

Returning to matters biological. You mention your relative nearly dying from anaemia etc. I wonder if that was caused by another well-known class of plant lectins – the phytohaemaglutinins. These toxins are known to be present in about a third of legume species. They work by causing red blood cells to clump together and can cause acute toxicity and death.

On the other hand, B12 deficiency is known to be a serious problem affecting the vegetarian/vegan population. I will copy below most of the abstract of a 2014 paper by Kocoaglu et al relating to the effect of low B12 on infants –

In developed countries, vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency usually occurs in children, exclusively breastfed ones whose mothers are vegetarian, causing low body stores of vitamin B12. The haematologic manifestation of vitamin B12 deficiency is pernicious anaemia. It is a megaloblastic anaemia with high mean corpuscular volume and typical morphological features, such as hyperlobulation of the nuclei of the granulocytes. In advanced cases, neutropaenia and thrombocytopaenia can occur, simulating aplastic anaemia or leukaemia. In addition to haematological symptoms, infants may experience weakness, fatigue, failure to thrive, and irritability. Other common findings include pallor, glossitis, vomiting, diarrhoea, and cterus.
Neurological symptoms may affect the central nervous system and, in severe cases, rarely cause brain atrophy.

Brain volume loss is not restricted to the new born – work by Vogiatzoglou et al showed that B12 status was also related to brain volume loss in the elderly.

Studies have also shown that depression is more rife amongst vegetarians, for example, a Bristol University study found twice the rate of depression in vegetarian males.

I would also predict that low stores of the essential omega 3 fat, DHA in nursing mothers is likely to cause problems, since it is vital for the development of the babies brain which carries on growing at a great rate for the first year after birth.

It is certainly not possible to dismiss the activity of the glutens as lightly as you did and their activities are not restricted to the irritable bowel diseases. If you do not believe that they are responsible for a vast variety of diseases in all our tissues – please read the new books – “Wheat Belly” and “Undoctored – Why Health Care has Failed You and How You Can Become Smarter Than Your Doctor” both by William Davis MD; “The Plant Paradox – The Hidden Dangers In “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease And Weight Gain” by S R Grundy MD; and “Autoimmune Fix” by T O’Bryan – as well as the many, many scientific papers that are available on the web.

Unfortunately, reliable and dispassionate dietary advice is hard to come by and the old adage “follow the money” is still very appropriate in this area. The large powerful food companies convert inexpensive materials like flour, potatoes and sunflower seeds into expensive end products like biscuits, crisps and oils. This gives the companies tremendous profits and therefore clout with which to influence societies involved in nutrition around the world. If you doubt this read the new book by Professor Tim Noakes – “Lore of Nutrition – Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs”. Tim is a leading scientist in South Africa and a marathon runner who wrote books praising carb loading – until he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. After carrying out his own research, he realised that what he had been publishing previously was wrong and dangerous. He very courageously came out and said he was wrong and that carbs were the enemy and not fats. Since he was so high profile, his comment to a mother that she should weened her child in a lowish carb way was jumped on – even though babies being fed mother’s milk are in mild ketosis though the metabolism of milk fat – and he was threatened with losing his medical licence. However, at a public hearing when he presented all the evidence regarding the advantages of a low carb diet with the help of experts from around the world, he was exonerated. He relates all this in his book and all the forces that had come together in an effort to silence him.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that the various types of plant toxins constitute a real threat to health. There is no doubt that vegans suffer from low B12/Fe/omega 3 fatty acids/vitamin D and K2 levels even after supplementation. As Doctor Davis put in “Undoctored” – “No-free living population throughout history has adhered to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle until recently….”

It is a totally modern construct that without careful management is greatly detrimental to health.

I applaud you for following such a diet because of your love of animals – but because of the risks to health, I do not believe it should be pushed, and it is being pushed, as a healthy lifestyle when it plainly is not.

I accept that those on vegan diets must be careful about nutrient intake but see no reason whey deficiencies in vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids could not be compensated for by adding them to common foods, in the same way that alternatives to butter are supplemented with vitamins.

Beryl: my climate post was in response to DrC’s comments in his Feb 6th post.

Dr Charlie,

My late brother (another Charlie!) had pernicious anaemia (B12 deficiency) and received regular injections until he passed away well into his 80s, but it is essentially a recognised autoimmune disease. He was neither vegan or vegetarian and enjoyed his traditional English breakfast and his Sunday roasts and so I cannot accept B12 deficiency as solely due to a vegetarian diet. There must have been an inherited autoimmune susceptibility in the veggie subjects featured in your post.

Wegeners Granulomatosis is also an inherited autoimmune disease which can prevent all essential nutrients being absorbed into the bloodstream (including iron) from the gut. Gastroenterologists are presently working on ways in which to restore the delicate balance of Zonulin, a protein that modulates the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the digestive tract, discovered in 2000 by Dr. Fasano and his team at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

All of nature ultimately depends upon balance to function
effectively and it is extremely common for most people living today to have inherited a fault in one of the 25,000 genes passed down to them from 2 parents. It is very much an evolutionary process that is now the responsibility of the human species to decide where that process is taking us.

I would however, be interested to learn what you consider a balanced diet, omitting junk food such as crisps and other unhealthy which you have already postulated on. Evidently meat is of utmost importance to you, so does your diet also include any vegetables, and if so what are your preferences and what do you consider a balanced diet?


You have obviously studied the issue of CMCC and seemed to be upset with my presumption that there is no evidence – so I will ask two questions. Firstly, I’m a scientist so could you please give me the scientific proof that CMCC is occurring? And secondly, if it is so solid and unarguably correct, why has the IPCC been so reticent about holding public discussions with climate scientists, like Judith Curry?

When Britain is spending billions and the West trillions on reducing the production of CO2, I think it is only right that the evidence is as watertight as it can be. After searching for this evidence for 10 years or so, I believe this is very far from being the case – perhaps your evidence will convince me!

You may be willing to spend these huge amounts of money, if the chance of CMCC occurring was say 95% and the only opportunity for remedying the situation was to act now – but if the chance is only 5% and the situation can be remedied later at a much lower cost – why would anyone act now – please see towards the end of the post for more discussion.

I agree totally with your comment regarding the factors that influence climate – “There is far too much that is currently unknown or uncertain, and a great many factors are involved – not least being sun spots, CO2, orbital mechanics and climate patterns historically.” That was exactly my point – how can we be expected to believe in climate models when all the factors and their weightings are not known and modellers are selecting their pet factors. Yet governments around the world are squandering billions and billions of pounds on the back of these man-made incomplete models.

I think you speed read my comment regarding a comparison of the warmth of the MWP with the present day. I started that paragraph of the post by talking about the figure that appeared in the first IPCC report – a figure created by Lamb of UEA in which he indicated that the temperature of the MWP was above that of the current day. Not my diagram, but one created by one of the foremost climate scientists of the day. So you have the IPCC’s report presenting Lamb’s figure indicating that the MWP was warmer than at present, yet the IPCC still pressed on in its endeavour to prove that the current temperature was so high that we are at a tipping point. I agree with you, the two temperatures are pretty similar – so why is the IPCC talking about run away global warming when we know that the Holocene Maximum was around 1 degree warmer than today, recent interglacials were around 2 degrees warmer, and the Pliocene (3 to 6 million years ago) was around 3 degrees warmer.

In the paragraph, I also made the comment that Lamb’s figure was no longer quoted by the IPCC, so on that specific point, could you please refer me to the pages in any later IPCC reports that reproduces this figure or even mentions that the MWP was warmer/or of similar temperature to today.

Let’s talk about CO2 levels during the ice ages. Because CO2 is taken up by the oceans when they are cooler, it means that in the glacial period the atmospheric CO2 levels go down – yet the Earth warms up again and then during the interglacial the oceans release CO2 – yet the Earth cools down and returns to a glacial period. In all the evidence I have seen CO2 changes have always followed temperature changes.

Going on to Donna Lafranboise’s book obviously, I have not had time to read it again and I rely on my notes taken at the time. In my view, she demolished many of the IPCC’s claims. For example, the IPCC claims that the world’s most renowned impartial climate scientists are responsible for producing the reports and that all the articles mentioned in the reports are peer reviewed. We now know that this certainly is not true. On thorough investigation, Donna Laframboise actually found firstly, that many lead authors in the reports were not world renowned scientists at all since some do not even have a research degree at PhD or even MSc level, secondly, many were not impartial since they worked for lobbying organisations like Greenpeace and WWF, and thirdly, not all papers used were peer reviewed scientific papers. In fact, a large percentage were opinion pieces again provided by the likes of the green lobbying organisations – for example, Donna Laframbroise found 5,587 non-peer reviewed articles in the fourth IPPCC report (AR4).

Against this you state – “Her own research, however, is inaccurate: one of the grad students, for example, mentioned in the book as “earning his master’s [of public health] only two years earlier,” already had a MD in occupational/environmental and family medicine.” Well, I agree with her, I don’t think having a master degree for 2 years or plus or minus an MD in any way qualify you as a world renowned scientist in climate science.

Not that I believe in vampires, but I was intrigued by your information regarding her and this topic – so could you please give me a reference – so I can judge for myself.

I, like Donna, believe that our society is in danger from the underlying political pressure that is generated by the doom-laden propaganda that is constantly spewed out – polar bears will be made extinct by global warming (even when their numbers are increasing this mantra is repeated – how on earth did they survive the last two warmer interglacials; let alone the sea level dropping by 400 feet during the glacials), the ice caps are going to disappear (forgetting that the ice cap on Antarctica is thickening), there will be millions of climate change migrants by 2010 (I think there has been one – and he was sent home from New Zealand), the rate of sea level rise will increase (yet there is no evidence that the rate of rise of 1 foot per century that has occurred for the last few centuries, has be exceeded), there will be more droughts/hurricanes/tornadoes etc (all available evidence shows, if anything, the world is relatively quiet at the moment).

All the gloom laden predictions that were designed to whip up a storm have turned out to be untrue – why would we be fool enough to continue to be driven by them.

This is true particularly true when you look at a comparison of the consequences of CMCC – assuming it takes place.

Well we are helped here by the IPCC itself. The opening statement in the Executive Summary of IPCC AR5 WGII Chapter 10 (Key Economic Sectors and Services) states –
“For most economic sectors, the impact of climate change will be small relative to the impacts of other drivers (medium evidence, high agreement). Changes in population, age, income, technology, relative prices, lifestyle, regulation, governance, and many other aspects of socioeconomic development will have an impact on the supply and demand of economic goods and services that is large relative to the impact of climate change.”

This was backed up by a statement of Professor Richard Toll of Sussex University and one of the most renowned climate economists. After studying 22 papers concerned with the impact of climate change, he wrote a paper accepted for publication in the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy. In which he stated – “Statements that climate change is the biggest problem of humankind are unfounded: We can readily think of bigger problems.”

So why could it be that climate change does not represent a comparatively large catastrophe, perhaps one of the answers lies in the cost of remediation and the increased wealth of individuals in 2100 as indicated below.

Economists have worked out that it will be in the region of 2 to 10 times cheaper to carry out remediation than to attempt to reduce CO2 production.

An OECD report produced for the IPCC indicates that by 2100 the average pay of say an Indonesian, Brazilian or Chinese will be twice that of today’s American. This is applying their – middle of the road scenario – and assuming climate change takes place.

So even the IPCC has stated that CMCC when compared to other things is not such a big deal in the general scheme of things – and since we are predicted to be much wealthier by 2100, then the cost of remediation will be even easier to bear than the phenomenal cost of currently decarbonising – which impacts more on the poorer members of our community.

So is there any advantage to impoverishing ourselves at the moment – I would say no. To my mind, the sensible thing to do would be to wait, for the following reasons –

1. There is no evidence in the satellite or balloon temperature records of any increase in the rate of temperature increase – above that relating to the rise due to climbing out of the LIA
2. If CMCC does not occur then we have saved an absolute fortune
3. If it does occur then remediation would cost a lot less than carbon reduction
4. The later remediation would also be easier to bear because of increased wealth
5. Since the rate of photosynthesis at these relatively low levels of CO2 can be rate limiting on growth, then plant productivity will continue to increase – surely a useful plus whether you want to grow more crops or feed more livestock.

The issue here is that we’re off topic for this topic, so I can’t really debate this with you in here. I can, however, in the lobby, so if you’d like to continue over there I’d be more than happy.

As one final comment in here, however, the ‘greenhouse gas’ argument may well have merit; and although we produce a lot directly, a great deal more is produced as a consequence of our actions. It’s extraordinarily difficult to quantify aspects of the debate, which is why the nay-sayers have such a wide playing field. But there can be little doubt that the sheer impact of human activity overall is creating problems for our descendants in ways we can’t really imagine.

No, please Ian, keep this out of The Lobby – let’s have a separate Conversation for Climate Change if people need one. It is a relevant consumer topic but too heavy for a general social space like The Lobby.

Hello, as Ian has pointed out already, this discussion is off-topic. We encourage commenters to stick to the topic of the article, which in this case is about the ‘veganuary’ challenge. I’d also like to remind you all that you are perfectly entitled to have differing views on Which? Conversation, but we ask that those views are constructive to the discussion and wouldn’t be considered personal or offensive to others. Thank you

Lauren: can we create a topic specifically for climate change?


I am happy to drop it for now but I see that you have inquired about having this important topic discussed in a new conversation.

I am hoping that will happen because it deserves its own space.

It does, and is relevant to Which? in so many ways.

Patricia says:
27 January 2018

Unfortunately nobody here seems to be taking up the Veganuary challenge. I’m not either, but then I’ve been vegan for 25 years.

Patricia says:
27 January 2018

Sorry: by the time I got to the end of the comments I’d forgotten that MJM is doing Veganuary!

One of our colleagues is doing veganuary, and very successfully too. I am not taking part but I have learnt a lot from her. Who knows, maybe next year.

I did make a comment, it was under review and it has now disappeared – could you please explain why.

Dr Charlie,

Not having seen your comment, I can only guess it might not have adhered to the community guidelines or it contained a link that would need reviewing by Which? staff.

I have reported your comment so someone can give you an answer.


Many thanks

There might be something amiss; a comment of mine vanished inexplicably the other day.

Hi Dr Charlie – sorry for the delay in posting your comment. Due to the links, the comment publication was delayed so that we could make sure they were safe for our community. Your comment has now been published. I can see this was posted twice, so I’ve deleted the duplicate 🙂

Ian, do you know where and when yours was posted? I can’t see it in ‘the back end’ but if you know when you posted it I can do a bit of investigating for you!


I put a marker down around 20minutes after I noticed it had disappeared. It was in the lobby and if you can search the database, search on ‘guillotine’.

It’s here, Alex. You’ll need to scroll down.

I’m sorry Ian, I’ve had a look for your missing comment but unfortunately we haven’t got any record of it. We do keep a log of any comments which are deleted ( e.g. if they break community guidelines etc) but there is no record there, nor in our pending/spam filter waiting to be moderated.

This is very strange. Could I ask that if anyone sees this happen again you can let us know?

I’ve had this happen with php powered forums before, Alex, so no worries. Can be a sync error or a minor MySql hiccup. It was only a daft aside, anyway, about losing things or things going missing in response to a similar post of Alfa’s.