Interview with Author Lierre Keith, The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability


Lierre Keith on the Nutrition Heretic Podcast This week we look back on some past episodes and ask, "Where’s the beef?" Actually we talk about meat and if it deserves the entire negative press it gets. And then, in an almost perfect segue, we welcome, author, warrior and challenger of dogmatic thinking, Lierre Keith.

Leirre is a former vegan who realized that her chosen path didn’t provide all the resources required for a healthy diet and life. Her remarkable journey from that point is an ongoing adventure showcasing her strength and courage. We discuss what you need to know about vegetarian and vegan diets, the shortcomings and the risks that are often quite taboo and generate the ire of those who follow such lifestyles.

We think this is one of our best and most provocative podcasts ever!

Find out more about Lierre on her website, Lierre Keith.

Lierre's first book, The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability is out now on Amazon.  Keep your eyes peeled as she's currently working on her second book which will be published next year.

Thanks for listening! Please share this episode to help spread the word. You can also subscribe to get updates about new episodes and get a copy of The Nutrition Heretic's S#IT List: 7 Health Food To Avoid Like The Plague in your inbox by clicking here.

Modern Eating Disorders Part Three: Beware the Evil Grains... Really?


In the previous installation of Modern Eating Disorders, we looked at how some people have become obsessed with the idea of clean food. Clean food being defined as any food that doesn’t come from an animal.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, many people are equally passionate about banning all grains as well as most dairy from the human diet. Enter the paleo diet.

Simply put, the paleo diet is characterized by striving to recreate the diet of our prehistoric ancestors. Meats (including fish and seafood), eggs, mostly non-starchy vegetables (depending on who you ask), nuts, seeds and berries are the stars of this menu. But grains are out and while some will permit goat milk products, cow’s milk is completely out.

In my experience, most people moving toward the paleo diet are 1) former vegans who failed miserably and became exceedingly allergic to grains as a result of relying too heavily on them or 2) fitness enthusiasts, who find that leaning towards more whole protein to the exclusion of grains and dairy have a positive effect on their results. The latter, unfortunately, often confuses this diet with conventional weight loss schemes and end up endorsing ultra-low fat versions of meat and eggs as they would never be found in nature.

While I do believe that the paleo diet has many virtues for health (I had to dive into a version of it, while recovering from illness — although at the time it didn’t have a name), for many adherents it unfortunately has taken on cult status. Paleo advocates rarely say “I don’t tolerate grains or milk.” They say “Everybody should avoid grains! We were never designed to eat them! People shouldn’t drink milk after weaning.”

The milk bias is clearly a holdover from the vegan agenda — a misunderstanding of the role of milk in the human diet as well as in the diet of other animals. Unbeknownst to most people, many mammals enjoy drinking the milk of other animals. Just ask any milk farmer and they will tell you that everybody tries to get in the barn during milking time.

As for grains, most people miss the importance that grains have played in the evolution of man. When woman (most likely) began planting and harvesting grain, it served as a form of sustaining energy from other sources (namely meat and fat) as well as a way of having something on hand to eat through months were other foods were scarce. What has changed is the way in which we eat grains today. First and foremost, in the modern era, grains bear very little resemblance to their forebears. With seed companies selectively breeding grains to influence certain traits, and hundreds of pesticides being sprayed on crops, it’s no wonder that our bodies have come to view grains as an enemy! For example, the return to ancient grains such as spelt, kamut and einkorn has been quite an eye-opener for many people who believed they were gluten intolerant (gluten being the main protein in wheat, rye, and barley). While spelt, kamut and einkorn also contain gluten, many “gluten intolerant” people are able to digest them without any ill effects.

Similarly, many people switching from conventionally produced puss and blood filled ultra-pasteurized milk available on most supermarket shelves to raw cow’s milk have found that all the health problems they associated with dairy completely disappeared.

Another change we have seen with grains over the past several decades is the way in which we prepare them. It is little secret that heavily refined, enriched white flour can wreak havoc on our bodies, but the sudden switch to whole grains is not necessarily the answer.

When I began doing research on grain cooking, I began collecting old cookbooks because they are the least influenced by popular dogma. What I found was quite curious. Old cookbooks, even those going back to the time of the American Revolution, used white flour! But in a few books where whole grains were used, they were soaked overnight before cooking.


Indeed, after talking to many people in the 70 and older age group about their digestive problems and making the suggestion to soak their grains. They often reply “You mean like in the old days?”

Now, I’m not saying all this so much in defense of grains, but because of the imbalances that can be caused by avoiding grains. Many people following the paleo diet begin to eat copious amounts of nuts and seeds as well as thyroid suppressing green vegetables like kale, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli. Cauliflower, kale, nuts and seeds appear in very many recipes meant to replace some bread product. Nuts are also used as a replacement for dairy products. Eating so much of these foods over several months is likely to backfire on those doing it for health reasons.

The bottom line here is that by trying to break out of the box of political correctness, many are finding themselves right back in the same box all over again. Vilifying grains and dairy sets up a scenario where we fall prone to throwing all common sense out the window. Remember that just because something doesn’t work for you now, it does not mean that it does not work for others. If grains and dairy were so bad for humans, then we would not have survived the past 10,000 years. Consuming such incompatible foods would create too many birth defects and diseases within just 2-3 generations for the species to survive.

So why don’t we try to gain a little perspective and not look at the food of our ancestors as bad and harmful, but strive to recreate the ideal conditions that enabled them to thrive on these foods? We have so much awesome technology available at this point in our development. Let’s use it to fuel enjoyment of food, not fear of it.

About Adrienne Hew


Adrienne Hew is a Certified Nutritionist and the Nutrition Heretic Podcast Host, but is best known online as an author of the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller 50 Ways to Eat Cock: Healthy Chicken Recipes with Balls! Receiving a certificate in Chinese dietetics in 2002 and her degree as a Certified Nutritionist in 2004, she has helped many clients and workshop attendees to decode their own health dilemmas by understanding the inconsistencies in conventional nutritional dogma. She currently resides in Hawaii with her husband and two children.

Modern Eating Disorders - Part Two: The Clean Food Myth


Somewhere along the way, the War on Food took a turn towards anointing certain foods with the label “clean”. Unfortunately, while promoting the so-called clean foods, it left people thinking that other real and healthy foods were somehow unusually loaded with toxins and carcinogens. Some fanatics (yes, I went there!) even refer to the latter as “white foods”, a reference to white flour, sugar and rice, which is meant to make people believe that they have no value to the human body. What are these unclean, white foods? The animal foods we discussed in Part One of this series.

The myth of animal foods being unhealthy, unclean and unsuitable for human consumption stems from a variety of misunderstandings. First, they are considered “acid-forming”, which insinuates that they tear the body down by creating an acid residue in the blood and urine. Not quite true. What animal foods do is they stimulate the release of hydrochloric acid in the stomach so that the body can digest foods — all foods. Without adequate hydrochloric acid (along with a few other factors), foods pass undigested through the bowel. This sets up a host of allergies as undigested amino acids seep into the bloodstream from the intestines. This is called leaky gut syndrome. Crohn’s, colitis, gluten-intolerance and IBS all stem from this basic inability to fully digest foods due to failures in the digestive process.

Another myth about animal foods is that they cause mucus build up. This could be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the function of mucus is to clean the body. Once you recognize that mucus escorts bacteria out of the body it is not hard to understand that when people experience mucus-formation after eating certain foods — namely dairy — it acts to remove debris such as dust, pollen, bacteria and other invaders from the mucous membranes.

It didn’t hit me just how powerful this was until I went on a raw milk fast — a fast that has been performed in the Ayurvedic tradition for centuries — as an experiment to understand it better. During the first day of the fast, I was loaded with mucus to the point that I thought I would have to discontinue. But something told me that ancient people of the East knew a lot more about this than modern hearsay. So I stuck with the fast for an additional 12 hours and voilà — the mucus cleared and I felt better than I had going into the fast. My digestive capacity and energy soared. All traces of seasonal allergies disappeared. When I weaned myself off of the fast, I found that my digestion of other foods greatly improved too. Big win for Ayurveda!!!

While it is true that vegetables and fruits are great and can have excellent health-promoting properties and phytochemicals not found in meat (including poultry, fish and seafood), eggs and dairy, it is unwise to think that they are somehow inherently cleaner than animal foods. Yes, therapeutically they may help someone to overcome cancers or certain digestive problems, but followed long term, the opposite is usually true. I once asked one of my mentors about this early in my training. His assessment was that these diets whether vegetarian, macrobiotic or raw food worked temporarily when switching from a Standard American Diet of processed not foods such as Hamburger Helper and potato chips. And it only worked when strictly followed using foods from nature. What many people are unaware of is that a number of doctors are treating digestive disorders, heart disease, diabetes and cancer and other serious diseases are having even better outcomes by increasing the amount of animal foods including animal fats in the diet. These results appear to be longer lasting than those of diets that avoid animal products altogether.


An all vegetable and fruit diet leaves what I call “holes” in the bodies nutrient receptors. Simply put, different cells in the body require specific nutrients to function optimally. The nutrients the body needs for optimal activity fit like a key into a lock. However, when the body’s required nutrients are not provided, perhaps because they cannot be assimilated sufficiently or they are missing, the result is that another competing and potentially dangerous chemical will replace it.

Without getting too nerdy on you, take a look at the periodic table of elements on this page. If you remember from your high school chemistry class, the elements are ordered vertically based upon the number of electrons in the outer ring. So let’s take a look at iodine (I) which is important for thyroid health. Many of the green leafy vegetables that we are always told to eat more of as well as soy foods block iodine uptake. If you are not getting enough iodine, then the iodine receptors in your body will chose another chemical that may actually be in your diet or even in the air like fluorine (F – a toxic waste product from aluminum manufacturing which by the way is added to water and toothpaste under false pretenses), bromine (Br – often found in many flour-containing products) or chlorine (Cl – from city tap water, chemical factories and swimming pools). Is it any wonder that people avoiding animal foods, which don’t contain goitrogens (unless the animals are heavily supplemented with soy — a fattening agent) in favor of high goitrogen foods are experiencing “unexplained weight gain”, heavy metal poisoning, cancer and other disturbing health outcomes?

Instinctively, the body knows when it is not getting access to the nutrients it needs, whether those nutrients are from vitamins, minerals, amino acids or some other component of a well-balanced diet. Over the years, it has become apparent that many people who start an all vegetable and fruit diet develop fierce cravings for refined sugar. Sugar mimics the ability to feel good that would normally be produced by the amino acid glutamine, which is primarily found in animal foods. Once deprived of chicken, fish, pork, beef or other animal foods, the cravings become intense and sugar, that old familiar friend, shows up more and more. Many vegetarians will opt for cookies, cake, chocolate or some other dessert item for a meal instead of allowing even a taste of egg, dairy or fish into their mouths. In a book I’m working on with former vegetarians, one woman told me that she actually ordered birthday cakes on a weekly basis during her time as a vegetarian because the sugar cravings were so strong. Other similar stories have been reported.

Where vegetarianism really becomes an eating disorder, though, is in its focus on avoiding animal foods to the point that many vegetarians will opt for highly processed junk and non-food items just to avoid eating an animal food. Like all natural beings, humans are intended to thrive on the foods that have existed alongside us since the beginning of our existence. Consuming factory items that are completely devoid of nutrients and adding nutrient-depleting sugar on top of it is a recipe for disaster.

All of the examples cited in this article are only a small piece of the puzzle as to why so many people, after experiencing initial successes with all vegetable diets, eventually begin to feel crappy, depressed, develop allergies and often even cancers and heart disease. People following these diets often have the highest rates of infertility and children with autism even when vaccinations, which I am not a proponent of, are not in the picture.


This is precisely where the eating disorder begins to show itself. Just because something worked for you in the past, doesn’t mean it will work for the rest of your life. And if you find yourself no longer eating food just to make a political statement, then perhaps it’s time to reassess your values.  However, the opposite is often true. Many people who pursue the vegetarian lifestyle have positioned themselves as somehow inherently superior to their meat-eating counterparts. What may have started out as a quest for health has become an obsession and reason for violence against other humans.

The case of 27-year old Meredith Marie Lowell, a woman who allegedly hired a hit man on Facebook to kill a fur-wearer in her neighborhood, is a perfect example of a dietary lifestyle turned into a mental illness. I would love to say that she is in the minority here, but I doubt it. On Care2, a website frequented by many vegans, where I originally read the article about Ms. Lowell, any article bringing awareness to animal cruelty immediately gets bombarded with hundreds of comments from vegans screaming death to people who abuse or eat animals (even ethically raised ones). However even several days after the article about Ms. Lowell’s case was posted, there were barely 20 comments. Most of the ones there were from the meat-eaters who frequent the forum expressing pity for the woman and asking where all the vegans who normally post about compassion were. This is only one recent case, but I have experienced many more over the past 20 years.

The bottom line is that when it comes to clean food, any real food can be considered clean or unclean depending on how you want to look at it. As discussed above, eating only vegetation can accelerate toxin and heavy metal absorption. On the other hand, while animal foods are often perceived as unclean, they provide a vital cleaning function in moving food through the body and allowing receptor sites to absorb the appropriate nutrients. If a diet is clearly not giving you the health results you want, you should be willing to open your mind to changes based upon new information as it is presented to you instead of clinging to an ideology.

There are so many more ways in which the clean food myth has damaged our relationship with food, however, I will close here with this thought:

We are ever-changing beings from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, living in variable climates (mostly) and reaching different stages of life where different nutrients are required. How can we be expected to adhere to the same exact diet for the rest of our lives?

About Adrienne Hew


Adrienne Hew is a Certified Nutritionist and the Nutrition Heretic Podcast Host, but is best known online as an author of the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller 50 Ways to Eat Cock: Healthy Chicken Recipes with Balls! Receiving a certificate in Chinese dietetics in 2002 and her degree as a Certified Nutritionist in 2004, she has helped many clients and workshop attendees to decode their own health dilemmas by understanding the inconsistencies in conventional nutritional dogma. She currently resides in Hawaii with her husband and two children.

Dangers of Vegan Diets


I recently received an e-mail from a woman who was asking me if the hostility she perceived in vegan people she’s met could possibly be related to vegan deficiencies. She participates in forums where vegans blast her for having a different perspective on nearly everything. As a nutritionist, I face the same thing every day. Interestingly enough, the people who object the most to my message know the least about nutrition, so I had a lot to say.  I ended up writing her such a long response about the dangers of vegan diets, I decided to post it here. Enjoy!


I’ve found that I do much better psychologically if I don’t engage too much with vegans. I state my case and then move on. Otherwise, they’re so self-righteous I’ll lose my mind! You can’t rationalize with the insane. And yes, the lack of proteins and cholesterol in the diet along with B12 deficiency is associated with the hostility and violent stance so many of them take. The funniest, most ironic thing I find about adherents to the vegan diet is that they consider themselves so enlightened about what meat does to the planet and the course of disease, but in fact, the data they base it on — especially where health is concerned — is based on the info the government and food processing companies want them to know.

The vegan movement has little to do with altruism and more to do with satisfying the insanity of the ego. Otherwise, they’d be able to live and let live. Inform people of what they think they know and allow them to make the decision. Find true solutions instead of simply avoiding. Life isn’t black and white and neither is the issue of eating meat.

I don’t believe that any humans are designed to be strict vegan. Some may do “OK” on a vegetarian diet, but I have never met anyone and haven’t read any data that indicates it to be true that they would thrive as vegans. For example, Hindus in India survive on a vegetarian diet that includes plenty of dairy, but when they move to places like London where the vegetation is seemingly hydroponically grown, they develop pernicious anemia and other deficiencies. In effect, the vegetables (and probably water) they had in India contains microscopic bugs that seem to satisfy their need for complete protein. Milk is also probably not pasteurized (except in cities).

Buddhist monks may be the closest to a real vegan group, but they are not part of society and they do not reproduce so their needs are different. Protein is a stress balancer and I feel that the more you live in that real world (with jobs, children, heavy metals and other pressures), the more you need flesh to come back to center unless you are able to completely remove yourself from real life on a daily basis. Even so, I know many people who are vegan and meditate and such, but they don’t look healthy at all. Many of them show signs of neurological illness or end up with cancer.

We should really take into consideration where we live now as well, not just where our ancestors come from. It is said that it takes 10,000 years for the human body to adapt to new foods, so we never know for sure where we came from ultimately. One thing is for sure. Humans never ate processed foods and sugars like current generations. Otherwise, just eat foods as seasonally as possible predominantly from the region where you live.

I only eat fish that has been tested for low mercury and PCBs. I fear that most fish live a life far worse than farm animals with only chickens faring worse. Lamb is probably the most ethically raised even if you don’t go officially organic or pastured. Beef, surprisingly, is next as those animals at least see some daylight and grass at some point. While I understand why you would want to be pescatarian, I think this is what got Jeremy Piven in trouble with his mercury toxicity. At least if you’re getting protein from a variety of places, your body will better be able to chelate the metals, plus you’d be offsetting the amount of metals and PCBs you consume. I’m fortunate to live near Amish country (well 2 hours away) where I know my farmers who raise my food ethically. My favorite is a woman who does raw goat milk. She does pastured goat, pork, chicken, beef and has a neighbor doing lamb. — all soy and corn free!!! But there are some mail order sources of meat that I find to do the right thing.

In my neighborhood, many women have taken up a detox diet based on a book by a local author. It has some good points and in many ways mirrors the diet I recommend, but it is basically a starvation diet that does nothing to put good stuff back into the body. As a result, all the people I know who have done it look worse and end up with horrible allergies that didn’t surface before. I call it the pro-aging diet. Detox is good, but if you don’t put in some healthy foods, the bad guys will take over the body leaving you wrinkly, bloated and hostile. Interestingly enough because she presents her material in a simplistic way and is local, many of the women around here adore her teachings — yet come to me to sort them out.

When we start cutting out real foods, we can easily start overconsuming fake ones and we can damage our guts which ends up causing more foods we must avoid.

About Adrienne Hew


Adrienne Hew is a Certified Nutritionist and the Nutrition Heretic Podcast Host, but is best known online as an author of the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller 50 Ways to Eat Cock: Healthy Chicken Recipes with Balls! Receiving a certificate in Chinese dietetics in 2002 and her degree as a Certified Nutritionist in 2004, she has helped many clients and workshop attendees to decode their own health dilemmas by understanding the inconsistencies in conventional nutritional dogma. She currently resides in Hawaii with her husband and two children.