…nothing happened. It was October 22nd, 1844, and, according to the Adventists, Jesus was to return to earth on this day. (Later named, apparently without irony, The Great Disappointment, just like a meatless meal).
A good deal of the impetus for Seventh Day Adventists came from the supposedly prophetic visions of Ellen White. Quick couple of points: as a child, White was hit on the head by a stone. No wonder she had visions. Also, the zinc deficiency so common in vegetarians, as virtually all Adventists are, manifests itself in ‘spaciness – the religious and spiritual euphoria experienced is actually a mental cloudiness (Dr. Heath Motley) due to lack of zinc’. So, zinc-deficient, brain-injured woman sees otherworldly visions. Let’s start a religion. And spend all our time trying to to show the visions were indeed prophetic. (And failing).
[Before I continue with this post, I need to say that I am indebted to Belinda Fettke, who doesn’t know me from a hole in the ground (even if the hole was dug to trap a large herbivore), since it was I think her YouTube video that reminded me of the subject of the Seventh Day Adventists and their dark, insidious influence on modern eating habits, and in the case of her husband, a dark influence on those who defy the dogma.]
In hard science, Nassim Nicholas Taleb notes, they don’t bother with stats. Things are or aren’t. Foolishly, many of us in the ZC camp, me included, think that the ‘science’ around LCHF or ZC or carnivory is clear, and everything should be done and dusted. What is there to argue about? Humans evolved as carnivores. There’s no dietary requirement for carbohydrate. If you accept evolution, and most modern westerners do, then how can you then not accept carnivory?
There’s the rub. Humans are not natural physicists. We emote, we believe and suppose and imagine things, we shift between the rational and irrational. Humans also do soft science that relies heavily on statistics, knowing full well that those stats can lie, and they can find comfort in those lies. So when it comes to a debate about points such as whether humans are carnivores or not, whether a plant-based diet is healthier, the science is often a side issue, poorly and incompetently done, or maliciously twisted, or just ignored. Ideology can easily hold sway over common sense and logic, and when you combine religious ideology with anti-meat ideology you can do a lot of damage.
So the religious roots of modern vegetarianism, from deep in the soil of Temperance, Teetotalism and the Adventists, have far more to do with suppressing sexual desire and controlling behaviour than thinking deeply about where animals might fit into a ecosystem. Nor was human health behind this early-19th-century establishment of vegetarian ideology: it was conceived as part-political, part-philosophical, part-religious and part-scientific. The Adventists believed that disease was caused by immorality. And that red meat was a sinful, carnal (the root of this word is, of course, ‘meat’, or ‘flesh’) stimulant.
The American Association of Dietetics, now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, was founded by Adventists and was run as a clandestine extension of the church in terms of trying to impose a plant-based diet on the USA under a facade of academia. This vegan-run organisation masquerades as a neutral establishment, ostensibly concerned only with the health of the American people, and has been instrumental in making food policy for around a century now.
Battle Creek, Michigan, is where the Seventh Day Adventists first set up base, and gave birth to 100 breakfast cereal companies, most founded by Adventists. As is fairly well known, John Kellogg believed that starting the day with a bowl of cornflakes would prevent you from having carnal desires. While Kellogg’s is now a publicly-owned company worth billions, its offshoot cereal pusher Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing, which manufactures for example Weet Bix in Australia and New Zealand, is owned by the Adventist church and as a result pays no tax on their huge profits. So they’re basically being subsidised to push a plant-based vegenda.
Add this meat-fearing religious lunacy to Ancel Keys’s decades of self-serving ‘science’, and you get a very powerful anti-meat, pro-plant (especially grains) mindset that has shaped western nutritional policy and guidelines without anyone really noticing. That is what is truly sinful. A lot of otherwise quite sensible people genuinely think – believe, rather – that a plant-based diet is better, without ever examining the history, the evidence, the vested interests, the money trails, the corruption… These ideas are culturally embedded to the extent that to challenge them in an official capacity, as Gary Fettke did, and as Tim Noakes did, can lead to serious charges of professional misconduct. How desperately mad is that? Yet, when you look at the pathways, how sadly Kafkaesque and believable.
Time to sign off. Hope you enjoyed this brief casting of light into a dark, quite nasty place (this is my longest post so far – sorry). Until then, make sure you supplement your meals with extra beef.