The Dark Side of Animal Protein
by Olin Idol, (Hallelujah Acres)

The Dark Side of Animal Protein is the title of Dr. Joel Fuhrman's new book, "Eat to LIve which is scheduled for sale in early January 2003. Dr. Fuhrman, a coard-certified family physician, specializes in precenting and reversing disease thorugh nutrition and natural methods. With a massive eighty-nine footnotes for this one chapter, he dispels, through scientific research, any doubt abou tthe superiority of a vegan diet in meeting hte body's nutritional needs as well as disease prevention.

He begins with a discussion of the China-Cornell-Oxford Project (the China Project) and points out that this 'Grand Prix of all epidemiological studies" is the most comprehensive study on the relationship of diet and disease in medical history. "It studied populations with a full range of dietary possibilities" from a completely plant-food diet to diets that included a signigicant amount of animal foods." (pg. 69)

In many of tfe 65 countries, people live their entire lives in the towns where they were born. The dietrary effects researchers studied were present for the entire life of the subjects. "Cardiovascular disease rates varied twenty fold from one place to another, and certain cancer rates varied by several hundredfold." (pg 69) We don't see this dramative difference in rates of disease in America, because most Americans eat the same basic way from one state to the other.

Researchers found huge differences in disease rates depending upon the amount of plant foods eaten and the availability of animal products. They found that as the amount of animal products increased, even in very small amounts, that the rates of cancer increased in direct proportion.

"Most cancers occurred in direct proportion to the quantity of animal foods consumed ... In other words, as animal food consumption approached zero, cancer rates fell. Areas of the country with an extremely low consumption of animal food were virtually free of heart attacks and cancer. An analysis of the mortality data from 65 counties and 130 villages showed a significant association with animal protein intake (even in relatively low levels) and heart attacks, with a strong protective effect from the consumption of green vegetables.

"All animal products are low (or completely lacking) in the nutrients that protect us against cancer and heart attacks - fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, folate, vitamin E, and plant proteins. They are rich in substances that scientific investigations have shown to be associated with cancer and heart disease incidence: saturated fat, cholesterol, and arachidonic acid.

"These findings indicate that even low fat animal foods such as skinless white meat chicken are implicated in certain cancers." (p.70)

Dr. Fuhrman further discusses the impact even small amounts of animal products have on heart disease and finds in his practice that many people do not see a dramatic drop in cholesterol levels unless they eliminate ALL animal products from their diet. He states that coronary artery disease and heart attacks, the number one killer of all Americans, is almost 100 percent avoidable. The China Project verifies that among those who consume a lifelong vegetarian diet, heart attacks are virtually non-existent.

He examines the conflicting and confusing Nurses Study in Boston, which showed no decrease in breast cancer rates in American women who reduced their fat intake. These women on a lower fat diet consumed 29 percent of their calories from fat, which is still high by Dr. Fuhrman's standards. This compares to 6 percent of calories from that of those in the China study with lowest fat intake. These same women consumed just as much if not more calories from animal protein than those on a higher-fat diet. The researchers in the China Project concluded: "There appears to be no threshold 6f plant-food enrichment or minimization of animal product intake beyond which further disease prevention does not occur." (p. 73)

The National Cancer Institute reported on 337 different studies all of which showed the same basic information: vegetables and fruits when consumed in large enough quantities protect against all types of cancer, raw vegetables exhibit the most powerful anti-cancer properties, the use of vitamin supplements get mixed reviews with some showing that taking isolated nutrients are harmful, and that beans in general have additional benefits against reproductive cancers. (p. 74)

It is important to keep in mind that simply being on a vegetarian diet may not be adequate. Some vegetarian diets are high in processed grains and other processed foods, and low in nutrient rich plant foods.

They are inadequate and do not offer protection against cancer and other diseases.

Dr. Fuhrman goes on to discuss longevity of vegetarians and then moves into a discussion of the development of cancer. He points out the importance of establishing healthy dietary practices for children as unhealthy practices set the stage for cancer many years later.

In regards to breast cancer, the consumption of animal products, and the China Project, Dr. Fuhrman observes that, "As animal-food intake increased from about once a week in the lowest third to about four times a week in the highest third, breast cancer rates increased by 70 percent. Of note is that the only difference among the diets was the addition of meat in varying amounts. Consumption of fresh vegetables in all groups was about the same, .. . There was a strong increase in the occurrence of breast cancer mortality with increasing animal-product consumption." (p.79)

Dr. Fuhrman blames animal protein consumption with the unfavorable trend toward earlier maturity. He states, "…the slower a child grows, the slower he or she is...... an unnaturally rapid growth and premature puberty are risk factors for cancers and other diseases later in life." Not only is animal fat a significant contributing factor but over the last ten years a number of legitimate nutritional researchers have implicated animal protein as well.

"Another recent study from Germany found colon cancer and rectal cancer decreased by about 50 percent in adult vegetarians. However, a significantly greater reduction of cancer and all-cause mortality (about 75 percent reduction) was related to being on a vegetarian diet for more that twenty years. The degree of protection correlated well with the number of years on a vegetarian diet. Other studies on vegetarian diets in different countries show almost the same thing. The causes start accumulating early." (p .81)

In regards to increasing chances of survival for those already dealing with cancer, Dr. Fuhrman points out that researchers looking for answers to this have found that saturated fat (found abundantly in animal products) in the diet promoted a more rapid spread of the cancer. Other researchers found similar results. For a woman who already has cancer, her risk of dying increased 40 percent for every 1,000 grams of fat consumed monthly. Studies also indicate that high fruit and vegetable intake improved survival, and fat on the body increases the risk of premature death." (p.83)

"Today the link between animal products and many different diseases is as strongly supported in the scientific literature as the link. between cigarette smoking and ~ For example, subjects who ate meat, including poultry and fish, were found to be twice as likely to develop dementia (loss of intellectual function with aging) than their vegetarian counterparts in a carefully designed study. The discrepancy was further widened when past meat consumption was taken into account. The same diet, loaded with animal products, that causes heart disease and cancer also causes most every other disease prevalent in America including kidney stones, renal insufficiency and renal failure, osteoporosis, uterine fibroids, hypertension, appendicitis, diverticulosis, and thrombosis." (p.84)

In addressing dairy products and osteoporosis, Dr. Fuhrman quotes Dr. T. Colin Campbell, head of nutritional research at Cornell University: "Ironically, osteoporosis tends to occur in countries where calcium intake is highest and most of it comes from protein-rich dairy products. The Chinese data indicate that people need less calcium than we think and can get adequate amounts from vegetable source plant foods." He indicated to New York Times that there was basically no osteoporosis in China, yet the calcium intake ranged from 241 to 943 mg per day (avg. 544) while the US calcium intake is 841 to 1435 mg per day (avg. 1143), mostly from dairy sources, and, of course, osteoporosis is a major public health. problem here." (p.85)

He goes on further to discuss the negative calcium balance and factors contributing to it. He states on page 86 that: "Published data clearly links increased urinary excretion of calcium with animal-protein intake but not with vegetable-protein intake. Plant foods, though some may be high in protein, are not acid-forming. Animal-protein ingestion results in a heavy acid load in the blood. (p.86)

In concluding comments on dairy, Dr. Fuhrman states: .... . it is not essential for good health and carries potential health risks, especially products containing dairy fat such as butter and cheese." (p.89)

In the concluding paragraphs of his book, Dr. Fuhrman states: "Certain people have increased fat requirements, and the type of vegetarian diet they may have been on in the past was not rich enough in certain essential fats for them. This can occur in those eating a plant-based diet that includes lots of low-fat wheat and grain products. Frequently, adding ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil to the diet to supply additional omega-3 fats is helpful. Some, especially thin individuals, require more calories and more fat to sustain their weight This is usually 'fixed' by including raw nuts, raw nut butters, avocados, and other healthy foods that are nutrient-rich and also high in fat and calories. Even these naturally thin individuals will significantly improve their health and lower their risk of degenerative diseases if they reduce their dependency on animal foods and consume more plant-derived fats, such as nuts, instead.

"There is also the rare individual who needs more concentrated sources of protein and fat in his diet because of digestive impairment, Crohn's disease, short gut syndromes, or other uncommon medical conditions. I have also encountered patients on rare occasions who become too thin and malnourished on what I would consider an ideal, nutrient-dense diet On such occasions, more animal products have been needed to reduce the fiber content, slow transit time in the gut, and aid absorption and concentration of amino acids at each meal. This problem usually is the result of some digestive impairment or difficulty with absorption. I have only seen a handful of such cases in the past ten years of practice. In other words, not even one in 100, in my estimation, requires animal products regularly in his diet These individuals should still follow my general recommendations for excellent health and can accommodate their individual needs by keeping animal-product consumption down to comparatively low levels." (pp.244-245)


The following are available from

Hallelujah Acres. Health Ministers

receive HM pricing.

1) "The Greatest Diet on Earth" video

by Joel Fuhrman

2) "Eat to Live" by Joel Fuhrman

available mid-January

3) "The Food Revolution" and "Diet

for a New America" John Robbins

"Healthy Eating For Life for Children", PCRM with Amy Lanou, Ph.D., and Neal Barnard, M.D. -

"Fasting and Eating for Health" Dr. Fuhrman -

Available from

1) "Fell's Official Know It All Guide -

Health and Wellness" Dr. M. Ted

M6rter, Jr.

2~) "The Dietitian's Guide to Vegetarian

Diets" Mark and Virginia Messina

3) "The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism" William Harris, M.D.

4) "Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for

Reversing Heart Disease", Dean

Ornish, M.D.

5) "The McDougall Program" John

McDougall, M.D.

Web sites:


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