T Nation

Time to Make Some 'Vegan Gains'?


#1

Anyone hear about this Youtuber? He posts in depth about veganism, rips on very popular health and fitness/bodybuilding youtubers while also posting many studies backing veganism.

What're your guys on thoughts on his arguments? Yes I know he's a fucked up person.

Here's an example:


#2

The guy is a sociopath. He wanted to upload a video of his granddad dying up to You-Tube to show how bad being non vegan is. He mocked Furious Pete in regard with his battle with cancer and he threatened MrRepzion.

He has serious issues and should not be a role-model for any person trying to get fit or be used as a role-model for the vegan community. I am not vegan but most vegans are well adjusted people he is not.

By the off chance that VeganGainz or someone close to him reads this you need professional medical help.


#3

It is interesting that you've been a member on this forum since March and this thread of all threads is what coaxed you into writing your first post. Heh.

Look, as I said in the OP I know he is fucked up, but I'm curious how valid the evidence he has put forth for his pro-veganism arguments are.


#4

If read the description of the video, he posts all the studies he cites in the video.


#5

Well there are a lot of studies in the fitness industry. Many of them contradict each other. The average vegan does live longer and is healthier than someone who isn't a vegan for the very simple fact that the average vegan is more health conscious. Vegans tend to workout more than non vegans, they tend not to smoke or drink excessively. Most of the studies does not take this into account so the studies are automatically skewed in favor of vegans.

I personally know one person close to me who suffers from cancer, this person has not consumed animal products for over 30 years and has many other health issues. Weak bone structure, under developed muscle mass.

Most studies in the fitness industry is not 100% reliable as it is impossible to take all the factors into account as any slight difference between people can have a huge influence in the outcome of a study. If you go look on tiger fitness' You-Tube channel he cites a study that actually says that being vegan is more unhealthy than not being vegan (it was a reply to one of VeganGains' videos)

VeganGains presents these studies as conclusive proof, that they are fact which they are not. He never gives any credit to other sources which disagrees with what he is saying. He is narrow minded and a fanatic which comes through in how he presents his "evidence".


#6

Not valid at all. Full disclosure, I'm a biostatistician with extensive experience in cardiovascular disease research (I received my PhD from an NHLBI-funded Cardiovascular Epidemiology training program). I have not personally worked on any nutritional or dietary research, but I have solid methodological understanding of the science, and just...no.

There is no legitimate research that demonstrates veganism is better for cardiovascular health than an omnivorous diet. Very loosely speakingm, there are studies that suggest "vegans" have less heart disease than "non-vegans" but the pool of "non-vegans" includes a shitload of people that smoke a lot, drink a lot, don't exercise, eat McDonald's. What vegans will do, relentlessly and endlessly, is hold up studies like this that broadly show "vegans" have less (Disease X) than "non-vegans" and conclude that veganism = Fountain Of Youth.

Here's the deal. There's an ENORMOUS range of quality in diets that are "not vegan." I get 20-40 pounds of grass-fed beef delivered to my apartment each month, and on top of that eat mostly sweet potatoes, asparagus, brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, eggs, the occasional bacon, salmon, smoked oysters...I mean, you get the picture. Then there's the heavyset dude across the hall in my office that drinks a couple of sugary Icy Teas a day, gets at least two soft pretzels from the cafeteria, and never eats a vegetable.

So when you compare the pool of "vegans" to "not vegans" you're leaving out a large part of the story. I would love to compare the rate of CHD in vegans to a group of equally-health-conscious omnivores - people like me that walk to work, lift weights regularly, don't smoke, drink once or twice a week, and cook almost all of their own food using high-quality ingredients (including 6-24 ounces of meat a day, almost all beef). I'm guessing there would be a pretty minimal difference between those groups.

The point is, there's probably nothing inherently special about "veganism" or excluding animal products that makes you less prone to CHD. There probably IS something about excluding shitty food - hot dogs, fast-food pizza, and the mystery meat from the local Chinese restaurant all count as strikes against "meat" in the idiotic way that most vegan-supporting research is done. Does that all make sense?

There is some semi-legitimate evidence suggesting that maybe charred or burned meat may be associated with higher cancer risk due to the formation of heterocyclic amines, but that is not NEARLY an equivalent statement to "meat causes cancer" (the way it's often interpreted by the pro-veganism crowd). This looks like an OK synopsis of the current beliefs on that subject:

http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cooked-meats-fact-sheet


#7

I don't have time for a full SCIENTIFIC breakdown of all of the studies, but here's a quick example. I'll break down one of the studies he mentions - titled "Effects of a high-fat meal on pulmonary function in healthy subjects"

If you look at the paper, the "high fat meal" used in this study was a serving of Edy's Grand Vanilla ice cream with whipped cream.

So from the very beginning, this is already fucking misleading. This isn't a study of "animal products" doing damage to pulmonary function. This is a study of ICE CREAM. Do we all think ice cream and grass-fed steak cooked in butter are the same? Raise your hand if you think so.

But let's go past that for a second and pretend that isn't a problem. Here's another problem: there's no control group of people who ate something else and got tested before-and-after the "vegan" meal to see what normal changes are over that time frame after eating. So maybe the changes - which, again, they're blaming on consumption of a "high fat meal" - are just a NORMAL FUCKING RESPONSE TO EATING. For all we know, a group of people fed a bowl of carrots would have had a similar response as the people who ate the "high fat meal."

Here's a third problem: the authors go to great lengths to make their paper sound like the high-fat meal had some harmful effects. But there's a problem with that - it really didn't. There was a modest increase in exhaled NO, and no significant difference in the pulmonary function test (PFT) or C-reactive protein (CRP), their chosen measures of inflammation. There was an increase in triglycerides and total cholesterol, which, again, is a NORMAL RESPONSE TO EATING. And yet, the authors conclude that "These results demonstrate that a high-fat meal, which leads to significant increases in total cholesterol, and especially triglycerides, increases exhaled NO. This suggests that a high-fat diet may contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases of the airway and lung."

BULL. SHIT. It suggests nothing of the sort!

This sort of thing is epidemic in the field, by the way. People do these fucking shitty studies that have minimal application to real-world, long-term health and hold them up as meaningful evidence that a "high fat meal" is bad for you. Come the fuck on.


#8

I'm back for a little more.

1) The study Lobliner references at the start was an examination of the effects of a ketogenic diet on blood lipid profiles, among other biomarkers. It showed that men on a ketogenic diet had moderately favorable changes (lower fasting triglycerides, lower fasting insulin) with no change in some markers (LDL being the one cherry-picked above).

The problem with VeganGains' "rebuttal" to this particular study is that...well, he basically yells something to try to make it sound like a big deal...that isn't really a big deal at all. The study never claimed to show that the ketogenic diet reduced LDL cholesterol - which probably doesn't matter that much anyway (for those that do not follow the world of cardiovascular health research, the "lipid hypothesis" has been largely debunked). He says "at best, this diet does absolutely fucking nothing for preventing heart disease" - but "LDL cholesterol" does not equal "heart disease" and it's ridiculous to dismiss a benefit because a 6-week study of a diet showed no improvement on a single carefully-chosen biomarker. VeganGains neglects to mention that the diet did significantly reduce fasting triglycerides and fasting insulin, both of which are likely better markers of metabolic health than LDL.

Summary: he cherry-picked the one thing about this article that vaguely supported his point, and completely ignored the rest. Bravo!

2) Much like the study that I slammed above (the one that used a scoop of Edy's ice cream to "prove" that a "high fat meal" is associated with negative effects on pulmonary function - except that it isn't), most of the other studies that he references (what he grandiosely refers to as "the wider body of research") are equally crappy. Let's take this one:

"A saturated fatty acid-rich diet induces an obesity-linked proinflammatory gene expression profile in adipose tissue of subjects at risk of metabolic syndrome."

Again, the problem lies partly in the analysis of the data (which is bad) but even moreso in the ridiculous conditions of the study. One group was given 19% saturated fat and 11% unsaturated fat (as percentage of total calorie intake) while the other group received 11% saturated fat and 19% unsaturated fat.

The problem? "Saturated fat" is a gross oversimplification. Again, my grass-fed steak cooked in grass-fed butter has lots of saturated fat. So does a pint of Edy's ice cream. Do we really think those two things are the same? The study participants on the unsaturated fat diet were given mostly olive oil; it says nothing about what the SFA participants got to make up their saturated fat intake, but I'm guessing it was pretty low-quality stuff, maybe a refined or enriched vegetable oil. Probably not a very realistic equivalent of what a person committed to healthy Paleo / ketogenic / whatever diet you like that includes meat and vegetables as the basis for most meals.

3) Oh what the hell, I'll do one more. Let's take a look at "A High-Fat Diet Coordinately Downregulates Genes Required for Mitochondrial Oxidative Phosphorylation in Skeletal Muscle"

Again, no detail on the exact food that the subjects were given, just the note that they got a meal with a certain macro breakdown of protein, fat, carbohydrate. They also include a mouse study - which is why I wanted to bring this one up.

Now, animal research is admittedly an important facet of the entire research community. But doing nutritional research on mice is another bogus concept, and here's why: mice don't eat the same way humans do. A mouse's natural diet is mostly whatever fruit and vegetables they can find in the wild; in captivity, they're fed a prepared chow that's tailored to have the certain macro breakdown (again, usually with some sort of enriched oil to give them a "High Fat Diet" for studies). Well, no fucking shit they get unhealthy! We already know that feeding someone a diet totally unnatural makes them unhealthy - imagine a guy living on Cheerios covered in canola oil for a couple of weeks. I bet he's going to feel pretty crappy!

4) At the end, he goes on this weak rant about "correlational research" vs "causational research that shows the exact pathways in which animal products cause chronic disease" and then makes his way to "these are well established medical facts"

After watching the whole video, I can't say that I was surprised. The guy probably genuinely believes what he's saying; he's just seeing what he wants to see, the same way that T. Colin Campbell did with the China Study, and all that. I have become very disenchanted with my own field in a fairly brief time (I have just turned 29) because I cannot believe the volume of utterly terrible research that gets published. Virtually everything that this guy linked is useless, and some of it downright dangerous because it pushes people to believe things that aren't true and/or modify diet guidelines based on totally bogus "studies" that no one is smart enough to actually look up and read from the original source.

You also may want to check out this one:

It's not the most eloquent thing, but it gets the point across that Vegan Gains will stoop pretty goddamn low to make the points he wants to make and ignore anything else. Oh, somewhere in that one he references Dr. John McDougall, who wrote a book called The Starch Solution and has made a living trying to tell people that it's OK to eat practically unlimited amounts of bread, pasta, and rice as long as you don't eat any evil meat, as one of the "leading nutrition experts in the world" - no, he's not. He's a quack. Oh, and then there's this:

Again, more humor than anything, but enough that anyone should look at Vegan Gains as a questionable source.


#9

Dayum, AG! Just... Dayum!


#10

I'm normally a pretty affable guy, but as a professional in this field, I have little tolerance for people that (willfully or accidentally) make bold statements about "science" that are either misleading or outright wrong. And that pretty much describes nearly everything in the handful of videos that I watched from Vegan Gains.


#11

Appreciate the responses guys.

I have to ask about one specific thing he said though. He talks about how soy is perfectly fine for us because it contains phytoestrogens and not mammalian estrogens. What are your thoughts on this?


#12

That's absolutely laughable, but sounds on par with the rest of his "advice." Phytoestrogens and plastic-based xenoestrogens can absolutely impact hormone levels in a negative way.

Vegetarian or not, I'd say that including some whole food soy products shouldn't be a major concern, but soy protein powders, soy-based fake meats, and other processed/concentrated stuff are where the problems come in.
http://www.t-nation.com/article/most_recent/soy_whats_the_big_deal


#13

Thanks for posting all that, ActivitiesGuy! Appreciate the education.


#14

No problem.

Here's the reason a lot of this shit gets through the media and out into the public: it takes a long-winded explanation of research methodology and a nuanced look at the paper to find this kind of stuff. It's a lot easier for a wannabe to look at a PubMed abstract and see "High Fat Meal Affects Pulmonary Function" than it is for them to read the primary reference carefully and find these little nuggets that either totally negate the value of the finding, or at least radically alter our perception of it. He can spend one sentence yelling into his camera "The diet does absolutely fucking nothing to reduce your risk of heart disease" - I have to write a full paragraph or more explaining why that's an incorrect conclusion, and listening to my explanation of why it's wrong is boring.

That ice-cream thing is such bullshit. Even if that study showed true harm to pulmonary function, it's not an argument against a "high fat meal" so much as an argument against Edy's Ice Cream topped with whipped cream. Argh, this stuff can really piss me off.


#15

Sunday morning thanks for the likes of AG, Colucci, Bill Roberts and all the other current and former members who have made me so much better than when I first started following T-Nation back in 2007.

Vegan Stains is a true psychopath.
No reguards for anyone, nor anything that does not match and/or fullfill his agenda.

When you start to break down foods by nutritional content, it is very hard to top meat.
Even when looking at the Vitamin and Mineral content of foods..

anyway...


#16

Stone cold shithead.

Tried to get through a vid where he attacks Rich Piana and claims he knows more about hormones and AAS use? but clicked off when starts a sketch about male-rape on teenage boys!!

Poor kid has a ton of bad karma coming his way.


#17

I few interesting things about Vegan Gains (aka, "Richard"), from his own YouTube Channel:

(1) He has personally claimed that as a young man he suffered from hallucinations and anxiety, and that mental illness runs in his family. He credits his switch to a vegan and plant based diet, as well as the removal of all caffeine products, as fixing the problems he had earlier on in his life.

(2) Whether he was entirely joking or not (check out his piece on "why I'm getting a vasectomy"), the morbidity of one his posts may have cost him even some staunch vegan support - especially amongst vegan moms. Basically (I'm paraphrasing here), he said he hates kids, especially loud toddlers, and wants to smash a baby's head in when he hears it crying. It's also interesting to note that, while his view was most likely made in mostly satire (or maybe not), this is quite common with many vegans: An utter self-hatred and total distaste for humanity as a whole, across the entire spectrum of the human race, not just meat eaters.

"Over populated planet with humans" and "animal lives are just as important as human lives" are frequent and reoccurring themes with many of them. Some even compare farm raised animals that are used for food to concentration camp victims and exploited slave labor, which is likewise very disturbing.

(3) Had a cat spat with none other than Greg Valentino (among many other folks), where he basically calls Greg out as a pussy and fake tough guy for eating meat BUT at the same time admitting that he's unable to kill an animal himself and eat it (which Greg admits to). Summarizes that this is proof that as humans we don't have the "predatory instincts" of other animals that naturally hunt, and since we feel this compassion towards other living creatures, it's further proof that we require an animal free and plant based diet.

(4) Funny enough, in Greg's rebuttal to the above (on his own YouTube channel, respectively), he illustrates what VG eats for training purposes and health, and uses Richard's own channel as a visual guide of his diet, which largely consists of vegan donuts, pastries and a dinner of nut butter and dates post workout. Valentino proceeds to slams him in a rant that should be seen for a few good laughs.

(5) Giving credit where credit is due, VG does expose a lot of phonies and fitness industry hucksters on his channel, aptly naming the playlist, "Worst of the fitness industry". These are entertaining to say the least, and for the most part, deserve applause. Some beauties are his take on Kali Muscle (I was on the floor laughing, primarily because of Kali's own commentary taken from his channel), Mike Chang, Cassey Ho (of Blogilates fame) and the Hodge Twins. Epic rants.

(6) He then puts together a segment where he attacks Leroy Colbert (along with his claim to being the first man to build 21" arms drug-free) by using black-face, which he justifies by saying he's black, so it therefore should be ok I guess (according to him anyway). Even if Richard is black or mixed-race, he should have known better here, but still puts together a rant with his scientific facts to belittle and mock Colbert, which he refers to as a senile old man and lovable a-hole. More laughs.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

So generally speaking, from my perspective, he does have his personal issues and says some out there stuff, but I think the young man does make good points on certain things, and at least tries to support these with facts he believes are true and unbiased. He does increase awareness about sustainable harvesting and the treatment of livestock, but his abrasive personality and condescending attitude probably turn off just as many folks as his style attracts.

And that is the real unfortunate part of his channel and his mission statement, namely that if he really wanted to make a big difference through awareness and action (and I believe that he truly does), he should find some common ground with non-vegans, instead of attacking and mocking them, in order to tackle the challenges and issues that we face which are paramount to the health of us and this planet.

With strong allies and significant numbers, he could at least help improve how animals are raised and treated (even if they are raised primarily for food), how land is used and partitioned for both livestock and agriculture, and how we can improve and practice sustainable farming and food production.

Sadly, because of his in-your-face style and shove-it-down-your-throat persona, he will only succeed in becoming a mainstream social media entertainment caricature (at best) with most of his general online audience.