Dr. Michael Greger–What do we make of him?

Dr. GregerA while ago I came across videos by Dr. Michael Greger. I was impressed by his ability to produce these 3-4 minute features every day. The science was sound and the production values high. I started to watch every day and it soon became clear that there was an agenda here. Every video either spoke about the benefits of some plant component in the diet or the harm caused by some chemical in animal products. It turns out that Dr. Greger has swallowed the vegan philosophy hook, line and sinker; not that there’s anything wrong with that. He promotes veganism with religious fervour and has forged a career speaking on health issues, including guesting on the Dr. Oz Show. Surely that is the ultimate recognition of scientific expertise! He also was an expert witness in on Oprah’s behalf when she was sued by meat ranchers for defaming hamburger. Dr. Greger claims to donate all profits from books and speaking engagements to charity, certainly a noble commitment.

You will never see Dr. Greger refer to a study that shows anything positive about meat, but you will see plenty of studies that point out the pitfalls of consuming animal products. While there is some zealotry here, the studies that Dr. Greger enthusiastically talks about are from respected journals and merit our attention. I think his videos are worth watching, but keep in mind that there is some cherry picking of data. Of course that doesn’t mean the cherries he picks are rotten; they’re fine. Here is his latest; you can also sign up for a free subscription to his daily videos.

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/eggs-choline-and-cancer/?utm_source=NutritionFacts.org&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=fdde153539-RSS_VIDEO_DAILY&utm_term=0_40f9e497d1-fdde153539-23329237

Joe Schwarcz

30 Responses to “Dr. Michael Greger–What do we make of him?”

  1. Elle says:

    Is there any data out there about people who eat a modest amount of meat (mostly chicken, but do eat meat, fish, eggs, cheese, etc.) along with a ridiculous amount of vegetables–more vegetables and more variety than some vegans even eat? And very few processed foods? Probably not, but they are probably a healthy group. Sugar and foods that convert to sugar (like many grains) are one root cause of disease. If everyone reduced meat consumption significantly (50-75%?) there would be less impact on the environment (and there is no reason for animal cruelty of course; and it’s not impossible to raise animals without harmful chemicals). If someone has anemia, it is very difficult for the body to absorb iron through plant only sources. Careful attention to food combining at mealtime must be made to increase iron absorption (dairy, caffeine, alcohol, et al must be avoided with iron rich foods, and those high in vitamin C must be taken to increase chances of iron absorption). If one consumes a few ounces of meat, chicken, fish, etc., with non-heme/plant iron & vitamin C, iron absorption from both sources increases. Polarization is not productive. It’s best if we all think in moderation in our diets and as others have stated, we are all individuals and have different requirements.

  2. Dr. Robert Baggs says:

    A tough row to hoe, specially flying in the face big agribusiness profits.
    Nice to see a benevolent and effective effort now and then.
    Eating is only one facet of an enjoyable life; if we are to carefully to add
    both years to life , then make them as enjoyable and healthy as possible.
    Otherwise, why bother? Answer: to add life to those years, as far as
    possible!
    This would include cancelling out GM foods by consumer pressure?

  3. Jeffrey says:

    I concur, Dr Gregger is cherry picking his information. Although his information is correct from a nutritional and scientific standpoint, it is clear he has an agenda. One that entails having everyone convert to a plant based diet. Unfortunately, the evidence is sketchy at best suggesting that humans are complete herbivores. Certain nutrients (B12, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, Cholesterol, Saturated fat) are best gotten from animal sources. One important nutrient which many do not get from plant based sources is Iron. Vegans and vegetarians notoriously have low iron stores as non-heme iron is not as easily or readily absorbed as heme iron which is found in animal flesh. Why is this fact so blatantly ignored by so many. It is the main reason I stopped being vegan as the science fact is not supported by ethical principles of veganism. Still despite what I have expounded on, a vegan diet or a predominantly vegan diet is best for human beings and our overall health and well being.

    • Damo says:

      Why would anyone want to be consuming cholesterol? Our body can synthesise it perfectly fine… by avoiding meat products then you avoid dietary cholesterol, essentially. Yea, sure, haeme-irone is absorbed much better than non-haeme iron that you get from non-meat sources, but to get the required amount of iron is still easily achievable through a well-balanced and varied vegetarian diet. All you need are green leafy veges, beans, whole grains and you’re sorted. Add some vitamin C when eating these (a glass of orange juice, a squeeze of lemon) and you increase the absorption of non-haeme products. So, it isn’t blatantly ignored really.
      Sounds like you stopped being vegan as you weren’t able to maintain a correct or adequate vegan diet…

  4. Dr. Robert Baggs says:

    An honest,well based non- profit exposure of one of the reasons
    Canadian hospitals are stretched to the limit.
    Poor nutrition accounts for most non accidental waiting room
    overcrowding!

  5. LeftCoast says:

    In your words, “The science was sound…” (so what else is there to object to, according to McGill’s own office that separates ‘sense from nonsense’?), but your logic and research for this article sure aren’t. He was on Dr. Oz, so… fill in the blanks yourselves, folks, he’s obviously NUTS.

    He’s fallen for the ‘vegan philosophy’? Is that a cabal begin run by those same devils behind the whole global warming ‘scam’? Hint: there is no broccoli lobby, but just ask Oprah how things go when you even try to say anything bad about the meat industry. No carrot or kale lobby, but how much money is behind ensuring we continue to consume dairy, cheese, refined sugar, processed foods etc.

    Watch any of Dr. Greger’s longer videos and you’ll see that in fact, he does bring up research that shows apparent drawbacks of vegetarian and vegan diets, and research that shows apparent benefits of fish, meat etc. But beyond settling for the results of individual studies, he continues to ask questions and gather as much research as possible, updating his findings every year. And nary an ad, link or ‘buy now’ button on his entire website… he obviously has an ulterior motive. What a flake and a scam!

  6. Melissa Hoffman says:

    A common assumption here is that one forms a ‘bias’, and then seeks information to echo it. What if, as in Gregor’s case, the information is exhaustively read, compared, analyzed and contextualized, and then the ‘bias’ emerges to favor plant based nutrition based on evidence? Most of our culture is embedded in a meat/dairy/egg nutritional bias, so much so that it elicits quite an emotional response to suggest they are not safe. Add to that, the logic pointing to the healthfulness of plants and the pitfalls of animal products isn’t rocket science. Why would it be surprising to anyone that plants are more healthy?

  7. Chris Sanchez says:

    You call it an “agenda” or “zealotry” even though you completely missed the point that the negatives of meat consumption would far outweigh the positives (if there are any compared to plants) to consider it “safe” or “nutritious”. Look again, it flew right over your head. Sounds like you’re the one with a bias.

  8. Mel L says:

    To avoid major “diseases” we need to consume less bad cholesterol, more fiber.

    The ONLY foods that contain cholesterol are animal….the only foods that contain fiber are plants.

    For your health, to end factory farming of animals, and for the health of our environment, a plant based diet is the only diet that is sustainable….stay tuned!

  9. Sue Weber says:

    However there is similar, extensive & tested research Dr Doctors Ornish & Caldwell. Both have done studies & written books on reversing heart attacks using a plant based diet. See this seminar on utube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYTf0z_zVs0

  10. Wahey says:

    It’s interesting how people go on about nutrients, especially this ‘huntress’ character (bias? surely not..).

    They are right. Pound for pound, animal products are high in nutrients, at least some of them. They’re pretty good at protein, iron, calcium. Problem is, pound for pound animal products also have the largest amount of harmful bacteria, carcinogens etc.

    Containing nutrients does NOT mean ‘healthy’.

  11. Marie says:

    I’ve watched many of Dr Greger’s vlogs and agree he cites credible, respected sources. He also does show his bias on some and even regular readers and supporters have reluctantly called him on it at times and with all due respect at times it’s the good doctor’s rebuttal that’s weak. I follow his blog as part of many sources of information. I learned long ago to stay open to all sides of an argument or you might miss something valuable.

    I strongly believe everyone should educate themselves from different, credible sources and do what makes sense and works for them. I agree it’s not one size fits all. Let’s just respect others right to choose instead fighting to be right.

  12. Diane Sperber says:

    Are you all serious? Balance is the key. You don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. My brothers and sisters all gave up eggs and cutting down on saturated fats and they are all sick, on medication, and over weight. The culprit is hydrogenated fats, sugar consumption and all the chemicals added to our foods and water either directly or through eating animals that have been injected or fed them. You don’t cut out all fat but the wrong kind of fats from unhealthy animals. And if everyone would just stop eating processed foods and drink filtered water they’d have a 75% improvement in their health. We also are individuals and have different requirements to be our healthiest. One size does not fit all.

  13. Dave says:

    Sure, there might be some Studies that show that meat consumption might be helpful in some ways, pound for pound plant-based diet is not only sustainable has the highest concentration of nutrients and antioxidants. Food is a packaged deal. If you eat pounds of meat day after day versus eating pounds of vegetables day after day which do you think would cause more disease? Cause more harm to the environment?

    You can’t fault Dr. Greger for taking a strong side. However, From all the people I’ve seen or read bashing him, they seem to lack any rebuttal that legitimately disproves his findings.

    • Huntress says:

      Pound for pound, it is ANIMAL food with the highest concentration of nutrients and anti-oxidants, especially offal. Try getting your information from a science journal rather than a vegan propaganda site.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwbY12qZcF4

      Watch a Harvard biochemist present his thesis worthy analysis of food for the real low down.

      • dimqua says:

        “… antioxidant rich foods originate from the plant kingdom while meat, fish and other foods from the animal kingdom are low in antioxidants.”

        http://www.nutritionj.com/content/9/1/3

        • Former Vegan says:

          Essential nutrients are higher in animal foods, period. I doubt you watched that video, but you should. No trickery, no magic, just crunching numbers.

          Did you read your own source? You’ll find this statement there- “The high mean value of plant-based foods is due to a minority of products with very high antioxidant values, found among the plant medicines, spices and herbs.”

          Meat eaters use spices and herbs to the same degree as vegans.

          Fail.

      • Veggie eric says:

        No, that is incorect. There are no antioxidants in meat, nor is there any fiber. In fact meat causes disease. You would be best to avoid it.

        • Former Vegan says:

          There are both anti-oxidants in meat and “animal fiber” for prebiotics.

          Meat contains pre-formed vitamin A (the only form the body uses), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin D3, and selenium– all found in animal food.

          http://caloriesproper.com/?p=4488

          “The positive control, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), was clearly the most fermentable substrate; however, glucosamine and chondroitin weren’t too far behind. Chicken cartilage and collagen were also well above the negative control (cellulose). As to fermentation products, collagen, glucosamine, and chondroitin were actually on par with FOS in terms of butyrate production:”

  14. Dg says:

    Unfortunately, it is the meat and dairy that is killing Americans with heart disease, cancer and diabetes. That is incontrovertible. So why would one proselytize on behalf of the root problem? Meat needs to be demonized. The animals cost us too much, they are poorly treated, they harm the environment, eat too much, consume too many drugs and hormones and are one unending disaster. IMO. Americans are going to have to jump on Greger’s band wagon, or die. And their sick habits and lifestyle is spreading around the world, like a great tsunami of animal fat.

    • Francois T says:

      “Unfortunately, it is the meat and dairy that is killing Americans with heart disease, cancer and diabetes. That is incontrovertible.”

      Then, you ought to earn the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Others investigators haven’t been so lucky and are still unsure of your statement.

      • Joe Mitchell says:

        People want to justify eating meat because heaven forbid they can’t have their steak and eggs with cheese and a side of bacon. Connect the dots people, it’s science but it’s not rocket science. What does every doctor on the planet ever recommend for good health? Eating more fruits and veggies. SMH

      • Veggie eric says:

        Unfortunatly, meat consumption as well as eggs and dairy have been linked to cancer, diabetes and heart disease. You can deny it but it won’t change science. Sorry.

    • Huntress says:

      The Adventist and EPIC study data finds no difference in mortality between vegetarians and omnis. And animal food consumption is down 75lbs per person, per year in the US since 1950 (according to the USDA’s consumption report). What’s up is sugar, vegetable oil and grain consumption (and fruit and veggies too). So you do the math, can the animal food actually be responsible for the disease epidemic of the last half century?

      No.

      • Lou says:

        Vegetarians and omnivores BOTH consume animal products… However, there IS a difference in mortality between VEGANS and omnivores – which is why The American Dietetic Association, The American Medical Association, Harvard Med School, The National Academy of Sciences, the American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association and National Institutes of Health ALL now advocate a plant based diet – I guess they’re not as good as you at interpreting the meta analyses… BTW all of the studies Dr Greger cites are peer reviewed and published in well respected journals.

        • Huntress says:

          No, there isn’t a difference in mortality. And FWIW, the groups you cite don’t advocate a plant based diet- they say that a plant based diet CAN be healthy. They still advocate omni diets.

          • Lou says:

            The American Dietetic Association published this in 2009 – “… Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals. ” Which part of this do you think they DON’T recommend?

          • Lou says:

            Also see http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/100/Supplement_1/490S.abstract?sid=ed8ecbcd-4b53-4ce9-8075-0f3c1550553c
            for a recent publication on vegan/vegetarian mortality (and greenhouse gas emissions)in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Also, from the American Dietetic Association – “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes…” And from the Physicians Commitee For Responsible Medicine; http://pcrm.org/health/medNews/plant-based-foods-benefit-longevity.

      • Veggie eric says:

        Vegans live an average of 10 years longer than meat eaters. Vegans also have over all better health and less major health problems. Eat all the meat you want but be aware of the risks of animal product consumption.

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