The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #57 - Robb Wolf
Robb Wolf is a former research biochemist, is the two-time New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paleo Solution and Wired to Eat. Robb has functioned as a review editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism (BioMed Central) and as a consultant for the Naval Special Warfare Resiliency Program. He serves on the board of directors/advisers for SpecialtyHealth Inc., the Chickasaw Nation’s “Unconquered Life” initiative, and a number of innovative start-ups with a focus on health and sustainability. Robb is the co-founder of The Healthy Rebellion, a social movement with the goal of liberating 1 million people from the sick-care system. Robb is the executive producer of the film Sacred Cow.
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2:00 - IF Biohackers: Intermittent Fasting + Real Foods + Life: Join Melanie's Facebook Group For A Weekly Episode GIVEAWAY, And To Discuss And Learn About All Things Biohacking! All Conversations Welcome!
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2:20 - BUTCHERBOX: Grass-Fed Beef, Organic Chicken, Heritage Pork, And More, All Raised Sustainably The Way Nature Intended! Butcher Box Provides Access To Nutrient Rich, Affordable Meat And Seafood Shipped Straight To Your Door! Go To Butcherbox.Com/Melanieavalon And Use The Code Melanieavalon For $20 Off Your Order, And Free Grassfed Fed Ground Beef For Life!
The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet
9:25 - Robb's Backstory: From Heath Issues To Paleo To Today
15:10 - Current Paleo Stance, Is Food Everything, And The Role Of Vitamin D
19:10 - Emily Fletcher: Stress Less Accomplish More (Check Out Melanie's Podcast Interview With Emily!)
22:00 - D Minder Vitamin D App
24:10 - Cold Exposure
26:20 - Plants Vs Animals: Can You Get All Your Nutrients From Plants? Adequate Protein And The Effects Of MTOR
29:00 - nutrition for life stages
30:30 - the role of privilege
32:20 - protein leverage Hypothesis nutrition connection
35:25 - The Role Of MTOR in Longevity
Robb Wolf's Metabolic Health Summit: Longevity: Are We Trying Too Hard?
37:30 - the problems with low protein
The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode # 30 William Shewfelt And Ted Naiman
41:00 - Veganism Privilege: Local Vs. Globalized Food System
45:15 - Inner City Poor And Nutrition
48:30 - Lumen Lovers: Biohack Your Carb And Fat Burning (With Melanie Avalon): Join Melanie's Facebook Group If You're Interested In The Lumen Breath Analyzer, Which Tells Your Body If You're Burning Carbs Or Fat, Or The Biosense Breath Analyzer, Which Measures Ketones! You Can Learn More In Melanie's Interview With Lumen Founder (The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #43 - Daniel Tal) And Get $25 Off A Lumen Device At MelanieAvalon.com/Lumen With The Code melanieavalon25, And Melanie's Interview With Biosense Head Researcher Trey Suntrup (The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #53- Trey Suntrup) And Get $20 Off At MelanieAvalon.com/biosense With The Coupon Code Avalon20
50:30 - Intentions And Unintended Consequences
52:45 - Cobras In India Example
54:10 - considering the Other viewpoints
56:00 - Where Is The Responsibility: Actual Vs Intended Deaths
57:00 - Reframing What You Eat
58:30 - Our Fear Of Death
59:25 - The role of grazing animals in Regenerative habitats
1:00:30 - What Creates Equality in Life?
1:01:30 - The Role Of Empathy And Compassion
The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #52 - Dr. David Perlmutter
1:04:40 - split brain patients
1:05:30 - Wisdom In The Lion King
1:06:20 - Phoebe Story: Impossible To Be Vegan
1:07:50 - The Destruction of our topsoil
1:08:15 - Antibiotic Use In Animals
1:09:30 - The Ethics Of The Only Sustainable Food System
1:10:15 - The Implications Of Breatharians
1:11:15 - Carnivorous Fungi And The Role Of Choice
EAT-Lancet Commission Summary Report
1:12:15 - Animal Products And Greenhouse Grasses
1:13:10 - The morality of eating animals
1:16:00 - Climate Change And The Roll Of Fossil Fuels
Confronting the Climate Crisis with Margaret Klein (Rich Roll)
1:17:00 - Why Does A System Require Animals To Be Sustainable? The Basics of Ecology: The role of diversity, Biodiversity, And anti-fragility
1:23:00 - Food, Water, And Land Requirements Of Cattle
1:28:35 - BEAUTYCOUNTER: Non-Toxic Beauty Products Tested For Heavy Metals, Which Support Skin Health And Look Amazing! Shop At Beautycounter.Com/MelanieAvalon For Something Magical! For Exclusive Offers And Discounts, And More On The Science Of Skincare, Get On Melanie's Private Beauty Counter Email List At MelanieAvalon.Com/CleanBeauty! Find Your Perfect Beautycounter Products With Melanie's Quiz: Melanieavalon.Com/Beautycounterquiz
1:30:30 - Chicken And Pork, Grains And Soy
The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #49 - Anya Fernald (Belcampo)
1:33:45 - camels, And grass fed vs conventional Nutrition
1:39:00 - The Omega 3:6 Ratio
1:42:05 - Saturated Fat in Conventional Vs Pastured Animals
The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #43 - Teri Cochrane
1:43:15 - Nuclear Energy As A Solution?
1:47:00 - Lab Grown Meat
1:49:30 - The Role of Large predators in the Environment
Melanie Avalon: Hi friends, welcome back to the show. I am actually going to start today's episode with a little story. You guys know me well, you know my passions, you know the things I love. Honestly, that really all started because I first changed my diet about 10 years ago. I went low carb, I started doing intermittent fasting and that's when I realized the profound effects of what you put in your mouth, how it affects your body. But the final piece in that puzzle was in 2012, I believe. I read a book called The Paleo Solution, and it changed my life. Because up until that time, I was doing low carb, I was doing intermittent fasting and I thought I was doing all the things. I was like, “What difference can actually cleaning up what I eat beyond that make?” And it had such a profound effect on my life, I'm going to start crying. [laughs] Oh, goodness. It stuck with me. It was an amazing work. I actually don't own the book anymore because I obviously lent it out to somebody and never got it back. But it was just really, really profound, really incredible. It was written by a man named, Robb Wolf. You guys probably know who Robb Wolf is. He is here with me today. I am just sort of in shock. So honored. Rob, thank you so much for being here.
Robb Wolf: I didn't know that backstory. I am so honored to be here.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I remember I tweeted you probably once in 2014, and you tweeted back and I had insomnia for three days. So, I definitely had insomnia last night.
Robb Wolf: I have that effect on my wife too, but mainly from annoying her incessantly. So, hopefully it was a different causal deal for you.
Melanie Avalon: No, it was a good one. I was like must implement all the biohacking things to fall asleep. But in any case, we could have completely 100% had an episode on that book, which was a New York Times bestseller, but since then you've also released Wired to Eat, also a New York Times bestseller. I really, really loved that book as well. That was really revolutionary, and realizing how we all respond differently to different foods. A sweet potato might be great for one person and knock out another person. I really recommend it. I'll put links to all these in the show notes. But now, we have a new book on the horizon. Well, now it's out, and that is Sacred Cow: The Case for (Better) Meat: Why Well-Raised Meat Is Good for You and Good for the Planet.
Friends, I just talked about how life-changing Paleo Solution was. This book, equally life-changing. There's so much going on right now with viewpoints regarding eating meat, eating plants, we got veganism, we have carnivore on the nutritional side of things. Beyond that, there's all of this debate and conversation and emotion and drama surrounding things like climate change, things like sustainability, the future of our planet. And it's such an important conversation to have, and the problem with it, in my opinion, is it's so emotional and we often don't actually look at the facts and what is sustainable, what is regenerative.
Friends, after I read Sacred Cow, I want everybody to read this book because it dives deep, deep, deep into the issue. It's not cherry-picked. You guys know me. That's Robb, by the way, one of the reasons I think you're my hero in this whole world is, I never get a sense that you cherry-pick information which is just my pet peeve in life. But Sacred Cow, it's not cherry-picked. It really dives deep into how having livestock in the farming system affects our health and affects the environment. It also goes into the ethical issues. So much we can talk about. To let you know, the book already has over 100 reviews on Amazon. You know a book is a good book on Amazon when it has 100-plus reviews and then you go to top reviews and it's like, see the critical review. You have one critical review. I'm really excited to dive deep into all the topics today.
Robb Wolf: I’m super excited to be here. Thank you.
Melanie Avalon: To start things off, my listeners are probably very, very familiar with your work. I will let you know for anybody who's not familiar. I did just mention Robb is a two-time New York Times-- Oh, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He's also a former research biochemist. He's functioned as a review editor for The Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. He's been a consultant for the Naval Special Warfare Resiliency Program. He's on the board of directors/advisors for Specialty Health. The Chickasaw Nation's Unconquered Life initiative, and numerous other innovative startups. Like I said, listeners are probably pretty familiar, but would you like to tell them a little bit about your backstory, and actually what brought you to-- well, first Paleo and now ultimately, your focus right now on sustainability and the environment and how everything relates to that?
Robb Wolf: Sure. Yeah, it's a pretty long, somewhat convoluted story. I had a significant health crisis about 22 years ago and was suffering from ulcerative colitis so badly that I was facing surgery and I was contemplating medical school at the time, so I had a pretty good idea of where ulcerative colitis goes with conventional treatment and it's no place pleasant. But shoot, I was 26 at that time, so pretty young and pretty broken. I usually run around about 170, 175 pounds, pretty lean, reasonably muscular, and at the low ebb of my ulcerative colitis, I was a 130 pounds from malabsorption issues.
At that time, I was eating a vegan diet, I was living in Seattle which means no sun. When I look back now, I just had the perfect storm if I were to write a prescription for how to break myself. Like dual graduate programs, not eating in a way that was consistent with my physiology, really terrible circadian biology. No circadian entrainment. I was living in a basement apartment with one window that was about eight feet away from the house next to me, so there was no ambient light or anything. I bet my vitamin D levels were probably like 12 or something like that. I was just an absolute mess. I don't want to hang everything on the dietary approach that I had, but all things considered, that very grain and legume-centric vegan diet did not work for me, particularly under all of those circumstances. That health crisis led me to investigate what was going on with me.
I guess an ironic feature of this is that what was happening to me was very similar to the health issues that my mother had experienced throughout her whole life. She had had her gallbladder removed, she had all these GI-related issues, she had what we assumed to discover was a interrelated complex of autoimmune diseases, but her rheumatologist did some blood work on her and he said, “Hey, you are intolerant to grains, legumes, and dairy.” And when my mom shared this with me, because I was vegan at the time, I was kind of like, “Okay, the dairy makes sense, but grains and legumes, what on earth do eat you if you don't eat that?” This was in 1998. I was just sitting on my back porch thinking about this after I had talked to my mom and this idea, popped into my head, free-associating. I'm like, “Okay, grains and legumes, that's agriculture. What came before agriculture?” And this idea of the Paleolithic or Paleolithic diet, hunter-gatherer kind of popped into my head. Again, mind you, this was 1998.
I went into house turned on my computer, waited for it to boot up. Then I turned on the dial-up and got online eventually. And there was this newfangled search engine called Google. And then to Google, I put the term Paleolithic diet and I found some work by Loren Cordain. And Arthur Devaney. I ended up doing research with both of these folks. It's interesting, I guess, I was pretty well known for the Paleo Diet angle, at least initially in my career, but the first book really is a low carb angle on paleo. I made the recommendation of staying below 50 grams of carbs a day, at least for the first 30 day reset, but the impact that that dietary and overall lifestyle change had on me. I became aware of Vitamin D, and not just vitamin D that we can get from a supplement, but vitamin D as nature largely intended, which is getting sunlight on our skin and the whole secosteroid cascade that leads into vitamin D production and nitric oxide release and all this other good stuff I developed.
What eventually became, I think generally termed like the ancestral health template or an evolutionary biology template. So really trying to use this ancestral model to inform as much of my living as I can, I don't try to do historical reenactments. I'm not excited to go live under a bush or anything like that. When some challenges emerge with regards to health, and even like mental health issues and stuff like that, I think it's very powerful to at least ask some questions that have the ancestral health orientation, knock on wood, but between the book and podcasts, and whatnot. There have been a several 10s of millions of people that have been exposed to this idea and seem to have really remarkably benefited.
I would make the case that the powerful interest in the gut microbiome is really an outgrowth of interest that was initially brought to bear on gut health from the kind of Paleo Diet research. So, there's a lot of things that have spun out of that initial Paleo Diet template that are still with us today. Intermittent fasting really came on strong as a consequence of some of the early Paleo Diet research. It was definitely a very valuable starting point.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's so incredible. This is a question I have for you. Where do you currently stand on everything and the whole “paleo and food world” because I know for me, like when I first read your book and started paleo, I was like, “It's all paleo. It's all food, all health issues. It's all whole foods. It all can be fixed by what I put in my mouth.” But since then, I feel like my perspective on everything has become slightly more nuanced. I still think that food is the main driving factor in our health. But there does seem to be so many other factors involves. I mean, mindset, epigenetics environment, you touched on the gut microbiome, which arguably, will be affected by our food. But I know just from listening to your podcast and hearing about your journey through the years that I feel like you and I are similar in that a paleo type template works really well. But ever since I had that initial gut issue problem in 2014, it's like, never have been able to really get back to 100%.
I struggle every day with this idea where I'm like, “I'm eating the foods. So why am I still having problems?” I was just wondering like what are your thoughts currently? Have they evolved much since then, like the role of, like I said, the microbiome, macros? How much can we do with our health by our food choices?
Robb Wolf: Man, it's a really good question. It's a way better question than my answer is going to do it justice but I'll take a couple of stabs at it. I had a similar deal, in looking back, I also realized that this ulcerative colitis came on the heels of being exposed to Giardia while traveling abroad. I managed to clear that up with the standard antibiotic treatment, but I was never really 100% right after that, and I think that that heightened my food sensitivities, things like gluten and even dairy were remarkably problematic for me, but I noticed something weird. Whenever I would travel, and I would get somewhere equatorial sunny, warm, hot, humid, my digestion improved, and my overall sense of wellbeing improved. For over 10 years I lived in a very sunny place, Reno, Nevada, but it gets cold at periods that the year, it's high desert and so there's definitely times where it's quite chilly and you're not going to spend a ton of time outside, but I thought it was a pretty sunny environment, but whenever we would get somewhere, like Hawaii or Mexico or something like that, my digestion improved. I always have tended to be in that kind of IBS spectrum. This gets into the TMI stuff pretty quickly, but I've always been on the looser side. It just always tended that way.
Then we moved to New Braunfels, Texas a year ago, and my digestion just got amazing. It got so much better. It was better for about six weeks and then I got food poisoning here and it took me down for about three months. The only thing I could consume was animal-based products. I was basically carnivore for three months straight. And then slowly reintroduce some things. What I've discovered is things like green salads are not my friend. Huge stir-fries are not my friend. I can do some tomatoes, some avocados, some asparagus, but for me, I know for a fact that getting daily sun and some heat is really a-- it's 20%, 25% of my overall health index and happiness index. So, that's been a major, major piece.
Then I also started a meditation practice. It's Emily Fletcher's Stress Less, Accomplish More, twice a day, 15-minute meditation, very, very simple. And that was a major improvement in my sleep and in my health. So, there were these peripheral things, like introducing some dedicated meditation and then also, just leave in an environment where I can easily get sun and water. There's water everywhere around me. We both have a pool and there are rivers around here that you can swim in all year round. And I got to say, that's just been a shocking improvement for my health and digestion. But I've also narrowed things down that I mainly eat the stuff that I do well with, and I eat more or less a ketogenic diet, but I'll cycle some fruit, particularly based around my Brazilian jujitsu practice, and it's funny, I do better with more tropical fruit-type things, like papaya, mangoes, melon, some berries. I don't do particularly well with like apples and pears.
Melanie Avalon: What about pineapple?
Robb Wolf: Pineapple, I do okay with, but I'll get a mouth sore if I go too crazy on it. So, I have to meter that out. But as just a standalone dose, I do okay. It's funny, both of my daughter's love pineapple and both of them will get a skin rash if we just like cut up a pineapple and let them go to town on it the way that they would a watermelon, both of them will end up with a skin rash by the end of the day. All of us, except my wife, who is Italian and apparently particularly hard to kill, we have to meter out pineapple. But the long and short is that I've continued to just pay attention to what seems to work well with me on the food side. And then I've definitely had some lifestyle changes, getting out in the sun every day, like I will sacrifice bathing in lieu of getting out outside. Like right before we recorded, I sat down outside, I turned on my dminder app to track how much vitamin D in theory I'm making, sitting out in the backyard and then I jumped in the pool really quick, towel off, ran in here. I mean that has been a huge change for us.
It's interesting like, if for financial reasons or family reasons, we had a compelling case to move to like Idaho or Montana now, I would have to really think hard about that, but I don't know if maybe I would need to buy a tanning booth and have it in my house or something so that I could get that same UV exposure. But that has been such a profound improvement in my health, plus just really paying attention to what do I do well with and what do I not do well with on the food side, and really whittling that down, that's paid huge dividends for me.
Melanie Avalon: What was that vitamin D app? I wasn't familiar with that.
Robb Wolf: It's called dminder and it's pretty slick. It will ask you what your skin type is like, are you a ginger and you're basically a vampire and you're going to burst into flame with any direct sunlight and it will adjust for that or if you're darker-skinned, it will adjust and then it takes into account your location. So, both your latitude and longitude and your elevation, and then based off that, it's able to pretty accurately calculate what your local ultraviolet light exposure environment is at any given time. And then it overlays that with your predilection for burning versus tanning. It's been interesting because most of my sessions are about 15 to 20 minutes on each side. And that's it. And I have a very mild tan, but I usually actually get darker during the summer than what I am right now. But I'm really trying to stick to just that, just the maximum therapeutic dose.
It's interesting because I think it's a fascinating, something in the biohacking world that I think that folks don't often appreciate or give enough airtime to is what is the cost-benefit analysis of any given thing. We always talk about optimizing or trying to max one thing out, but in biology, everything's a trade-off. And getting good sun is fantastic, turning yourself into a leather handbag is maybe not fantastic. I think that there's a trade-off on that. When I say I'm getting sun, it's more the consistency than it is the absolute magnitude of exposure and that dminder app really helps me to stay on point with that.
Melanie Avalon: That is so cool for listeners. The show notes will be at melanieavalon.com/sacredcow. I'll put a link in the show notes to that app. I was not familiar with it, actually to the vitamin D point. So, sort of the opposite of you. I'm currently in Atlanta. I want to move to like Alaska, or Colorado. I really like the cold. There's heat shock proteins from sauna, there's cold exposure, there's all these different things. I feel my body just responds so well to cold exposure. I just feel so healthy. But I've seen if I do that I'm going to have to get like a tanning bed or so because that would just not pan out.
Robb Wolf: I honestly think the ideal would almost be like Machu Picchu or something where you're high altitude cold, but also low latitudes. So, you're getting lots of UV and you could get both the cold exposure and the ultraviolet radiation pretty much at your leisure. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: I'm going to add that to the list of potential places. Actually, to that point, this is random question, but I noticed for the longest time-- I lived in California for about 10 years, so got a lot more vitamin D there, but for a long time, I was eating a very high fish, high pineapple diet. Pineapple was great because I eat so high protein that I found it digested really well. I've done periods of super low carb, especially when I was first doing paleo and low carb, but then I found when I switched to actually really high protein, really high carb from fruit and actually pretty low fat. The only fat was from the lean animal protein, I really thrived on that. I stopped eating fish a little bit though because I got mercury toxicity.
Looking back though, I realized there's actually seems to be substantial vitamin D in some fish species. And I’ve realized I'm on the fence now about like vitamin D supplementation because I found that if I supplement at high dose, I will feel like really good. I feel like it makes a really big difference. But then I've done all this research on supplementation, it's like you're talking about cost-benefit is taking in supplemental forms of vitamin D or supplemental forms of vitamins, how is that affecting the body? And is that actually maybe downregulating our body's natural production of our natural tendency to have regulated amounts of these things. And I think this actually really ties in really well to the whole vegan-carnivore debate, things like that, like getting nutrients from food versus supplements. So, that was kind of all over the place question. But I guess the question from that.
So, eating plants versus eating animals, the nutrients that we can get from that, because a lot of people will say that a lot of vegans and vegetarians will make the case that we can get all the nutrients we need from plants, maybe some supplementation is required. But for people who say they want to do that they want to get all their nutrition from plants, they think they can. Can we just eat plants and supplement and can we be healthy? Is that possible?
Robb Wolf: A lot to unpack there. If you live in a modern Western world where you've got a CVS or a Whole Foods where you can go get your enzymated B vitamins, bioavailable zinc and iron source, your LG derived DHA, I think you can do a pretty fair run doing a vegan diet as always, from my perspective, the nutrient density challenge becomes a little bit of a thing, getting adequate protein, which it's fascinating. The vegan world has an interesting Venn diagram overlap with some of the really extremely high fat, low protein keto world, and that they're terrified of mTOR and the effects of mTOR on aging and cancer potential and whatnot. I think that both of those camps are eating protein intake levels that will be horrific for effective aging. When we look at older populations and the way that they do or do not effectively age, the folks that eat more protein consistently do better on muscle mass, bone mineral density. I mean, it's just so crystal clear when we look at ageing.
It's interesting that the vast majority of people that kick the tires on any of these more extreme dietary approaches, they're reasonably young. So, we've got a buffer with youth and ostensibly if we've been otherwise eating reasonably well, like you've got some, some pool of resources to deal with. I don't know if this is performing a logical fallacy or stacking the deck in my favor like you said that I didn't cherry-pick same things, so hopefully this isn't cherry-picking stuff, but I really like to look at it, what nutrition can be amenable for both the beginning and near the end of the life cycle as-- when we are in these more fragile states. It's also pretty clear that pregnant or breastfeeding moms have a heck of a time having adequate nutrients on board to sustain both themselves and their developing fetus and then ultimately their babies. Throughout Europe, it is considered child abuse to feed a child or an infant and exclusively vegan diet. The United States, interestingly, like the American Council of Dietetics, they have historically on their website said that a vegan diet is appropriate for all stages of the lifecycle. But they've recently amended that interestingly, even though I feel hammering of the vegan message has been very stout. But there has been some remarkable pushback within the scientific community. And also, we're starting to see the beginning edge of, what I think may end up being a public health tsunami of people that have been experimenting with vegan or Peri vegan diets and raising their kids. And there's some pretty terrible outcomes emerging. If kids don't get adequate iron, zinc, B vitamins, any one or all of those can impede neurological development. This is a permanent feature the child will never develop the way that he or she could have inadequate EPA and DHA, which you can only get from animal sources or from a fairly complex process of extracting it from algae, that is 90% of what our brain is made up of is these long-chain omega fats.
It can be done, but this is also one of the points that we really pushed back on in Sacred Cow around this topic of feeding people. There are 10s of millions of people around the world, hundreds of millions of people around the world that don't have the privilege to push away the most nutrient-dense food that's available. And that is meat and/or animal products. And it's ironic that the same deficiency features that we see around vegan and vegetarian diets, and again, we detailed this stuff in the book incited the literature where it's just really easy to establish that the vegan and vegetarian diets disproportionately lend themselves to nutrient-deficient status and consequent health problems. So, like that, that's all inline citation and folks are more than welcome to go pick that apart and see if we got that wrong. But it's ironic that when you look at the nutrient deficiencies of folks that are in developing countries that have massive food insecurity are typically trapped in a cycle of only a few starchy agricultural products as the bulk of their calories, they suffer from exactly the same type of nutrient deficiencies, low vitamin A, low vitamin D, vitamin K2 is almost nonexistent. Zinc, iron and long-chain, essential fat, fatty acid deficiencies, to say nothing of just general protein malnutrition.
I do think that people can navigate a vegan diet in a Western developed world to some degree. I think that you really have to put some thought into things like food intolerances and there's this concept in evolutionary biology called the Protein Leverage Hypothesis that puts forward the case that all organisms eat to a protein minimum. And this is true whether you're talking about a carnivore, an omnivore, an herbivore. Like if you release cows into a fresh pasture and there's awesome looking green grass, and there's awesome looking clover, they will make a beeline to the clover because the clover is much higher in protein. And it's far more nutrient-dense, and they can actually overdo that, it can be a problem for them, so they need to strike a balance with that. But it's interesting that if you look at this protein leverage hypothesis concept when organisms eat to that protein minimum because protein in all foods is disproportionately associated with nutrition, with nutrient density. If you just get enough protein, then you tend to by extension, get enough nutrition overall.
And this is where things get a little bit dodgy again, like a three-ounce piece of steak has like 21, 25 grams of protein and it has iron and it has zinc and it has a little bit of long-chain omega-3 fats. And it's about 200, 230 calories right around there, to get the same absolute amount of protein from beans and rice, you would need to eat nearly 800 calories. So, what we find is that folks really struggle to hit that protein minimum. And whether folks are high carb or low carb, if they under eat protein, they tend to overeat whatever other macronutrients that they have in hand. With just ironic consistency, whenever we see folks that are struggling with their health, particularly with their body composition, the answer is just about uniformly to increase protein. In a vegan context, we could do that with plant protein isolates and stuff like that. But then if we leave it there, then I'm okay with it. But if we start saying that that is now a sustainable way to eat and we're ignoring all the energy and infrastructure that goes into not just the row crops that folks are eating, but also the massive amount of processing to extract this protein to get a concentrated vegan source of protein, then we have some problems there. It is inaccurate and unethical to couch that stuff as being a sustainability boon. If someone just ethically really does not want to eat protein from animal products, but they want to eat as close to what their physiology likely needs, then by all means, go for it, do that stuff. But I get pretty prickly when folks try to portray, say like the vegan protein concentrates at somehow superior meat when you look at the total environmental footprint, pasture-raised beef or lamb, goats, camels, they just eat the pants off of any type of row crop-based and then industrially processed protein supplement.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I think the protein is so huge. I mean, I know for me personally, I try occasionally to go low protein, not extendedly but it's complicated because we have all these studies about low protein longevity. I mean, you touched on mTOR for example. mTOR is growth supporting, it's stimulated when we eat protein. On the flip side, we have an AMPK, which on the flip side is linked to longevity because it forces the body to go in and basically clean up house and create energy endogenously from itself. And so, there's often this argument that high protein diets create a lot of mTOR. So, you're constantly in a growth state and an aging state. That's why I find pairing high protein diets with intermittent fasting, I think you get the best of both worlds in a way because you're not having mTOR stimulation during the day, but you're having it while you're eating. And we do know that there's a capped mTOR. If you eat a high protein meal, you're stimulating mTOR but it's not like if you keep adding protein that it's not like mTOR keeps being stimulated extensively more if that makes sense.
Robb Wolf: If folks are interested in that longevity piece, I did my talk this year was called Longevity: Are We Trying Too Hard? It's a super deep dive into this topic, and I really make the case that once you are lean and relatively healthy, and eating something that sniffs like an ancestral diet, I'm not entirely sure that there's any benefit or any significant benefit to extended periods of fasting. I'm really a big fan of time-restricted feeding and putting more calories earlier in the day and wrap it up shop, but I'm very dubious that there's-- In my opinion, what's happening in the story is overfed lab animals are being extrapolated to the whole rest of the world. In a type two diabetic, over-hypercaloried individual, yeah, mTOR is on all the time. But if you eat two or three meals a day and you do some exercise and you spread those meals out a little bit. I think one thing that we will absolutely do is help foster adequate muscle mass. And this is an interesting thing. It is a theory that doing all this kind of jiggy stuff with protein and fasting will mitigate our risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, etc. Like all of that is entirely speculative. But it is a guarantee every single one of us will experience sarcopenia and loss of muscle mass and loss of large type two-way motor fibers as we age. And a primary hallmark of aging is the loss of those fast-twitch motor units.
I make the case that if you do everything you can to maintain adequate muscle mass and more specifically power production, you're pushing back this guaranteed problem, which is sarcopenia. And then by extension, what's interesting when you look at the likelihood of cancer of neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease, all of those things are dramatically mitigated by going through the motions of maintaining a lane active phenotype basically. So, I'm very much in that contrarian side of this.
I do think intermittency is outstanding, but I think that this is a thing, again, where people have gone bananas in protein avoidance, ironically. On that banana topic, it's funny, both in the vegan and the low protein keto side, there are folks that will recommend 40 grams a day max for protein intake for males. People have probably heard of the 30 bananas a day guy. If you eat 30 bananas, you get about 40 grams of protein. Now, it's not complete protein and there's other challenges with it. But I think that that alone just cast like such a dubious light over the notion that we should be restricting proteins to that level. Intermittently, occasionally, sure, that's great, but I think folks are going a little overboard on it. And, man, once you lose those large fast-twitch motor units, they're gone. You never get them back. There's no way to get them back. But you can about double or triple your effective lifespan of what you can maintain on those. Like a 90-year-old who strength-trains can be as fit as a 50-year-old who doesn't. And so that can play out to a really remarkable change in the health span of an individual, and I'm pretty dubious about what we can do to really legitimately improve the total longevity at this point, but I know that's out in the weeds.
Melanie Avalon: One that the most popular episodes I've probably had on the show was with Ted Naiman and it was all about protein. I've always been on the protein train, I know I thrive on protein, it just feels so nourishing. I don't feel strong or complete without it. But people who don't really have that perspective, when they're exposed to this idea of the power of protein, I think it's a huge, like epiphany moment. And especially what you were saying about like getting protein from plants versus animals. When you get it from animals, you're automatically getting all of this other nutrition with it. So, so important.
Question two, you just tapped on something, which was a huge takeaway that I took away from Sacred Cow. And that was the privilege aspect. It's fascinating because I think there's often this intense emotional, ethical conversation surrounding plant-based, particularly like vegan approaches, that is the most ethical thing and we'll go into the details about, is a plant-based vegan society actually supporting the health of the environment and things like that, but there's this idea that that's what you should be doing morally and everybody should be doing it. But how was that a very privileged mindset? That was a big thing that stuck with me from your book.
Robb Wolf: Clearly, it's a very hot topic right now, and rightfully so. I don't want to diminish a lot of the good intent behind this, but there's also a saying that the path to hell is paved on good intentions. And I think that this is exactly a case where that bears itself out. So, some of the stuff that we dug up in the course of researching the book, there are 10s of millions of women around the world, particularly in different locations in Africa, that they are not legally allowed to own land. It's just within their culture, within their legal system, they cannot own land, but they can own livestock, and that is the singular source of income of social prestige. It is the nutritional source for their family. What is happening is that largely white Western vegan centric folks in Europe, the United States, World Health Organization, UN are suggesting that these folks' traditional lifeways that have supported them for hundreds or thousands of years, and are literally the only means of support that they have.
Huge tracts of the earth are not amenable to growing grow crops, there's actually not that much land, that is croppable. There is enormous amounts of land that are grazable. In the United States, we should do far more sheep, goats and even camels than we do cattle. Pre-Clovis time, there was a much broader diversity of grazing animals and you could even make the case that we should be doing bison versus more Asian derived cattle breeds because they're much better adapted to this environment. They require less water and they actually fit into the environment better, but that's a peripheral thing. But people were suggesting that these folks in developing countries abandon their traditional food systems. And this would make them wholly dependent on the agricultural outputs of the United States in Europe as a primary source. And it's interesting that there was an FAO report that came out of the United Nations recently suggesting that everybody needs to shift towards a more vegan centric diet. And it was a significant amount of pushback out of the developing world because, one, it would destroy their traditional food systems. Two, it would make them wholly dependent on the agricultural outputs of places like the United States and Canada. They would have no food sovereignty at all.
Then more closer to home, we see some examples of where a far northern group of people within the Inuit population, there was a food pyramid developed for these folks. And on the base of the food pyramid, it was cereal and grains and fruit juices and bananas. It went up from there. But at the very top seal, and elk and salmon and blueberries and the things that actually occurred in their environment were at the very top that they should eat hardly any of unsparingly. It is so appalling because what we're doing in situations like this is we are basically saying that this globalized food system is superior to what people can do at the local level to support themselves and support their communities.
One final example of this would be inner-city poor, within New York, the New York school system, 70% of the kids that go through the New York school system are low income. 10% of them are technically homeless. And for many of these kids, the single meal that they oftentimes get in any given day is at school. They've been launching these programs like Meatless Mondays, and folks will say, “Well, what's the big deal with having people eat a salad one day a week?” Well, again, when you look at cognitive development, when you look at physical development, the ability to fight off infectious disease, it is disproportionately weighted in favor of people who eat more animal products. So you're taking folks that are already in a stressed situation because of food insecurity, income insecurity, maybe any type of like racial problems and then we're adding on to that that these well-meaning people and I hope that they're well-meaning because if they're not, then they're absolute bastards, but I'll at least give them the benefit of the doubt that they're well-meaning. But suggesting that the one poultry meal that they may be getting out of the current school system, any and all animal products should be removed from that. And what is left? It's just refined grain products.
And, again, when we look at what the nutrient deficiencies are that typify developing nations, poor, poor families, it's inadequate protein, inadequate B vitamins, an overabundance of refined carbohydrates, zinc, iron, and these things, again, they lead into developmental deficiencies that are permanent. They are never ever fixed. They are unfixable after we do that. I try not to get on too much of a high horse, but it is something that I legitimately get mad about. And then there's, again, I don't want to spin out too much on this, but then people will say, “Well, if you're Masai or Inuit, then you can keep eating animal products, but nobody else can.” And then it begs this question, why can they eat it, nobody else can? If you're a white eighth-generation rancher in Montana, you don't cut the mustard with-- it becomes remarkably racist and classist. And it's just a whole hodgepodge of really jaw-dropping stuff. Again, I get that people have some powerful ethical considerations here. And also, and I'm sure we'll get into this a bit later, but there's some perceptions that animal husbandry is disproportionately damaging to the environment and whatnot. And this is why we wrote the book, because when we really got in and started digging around this stuff, in fact, dealing with climate change, food insecurity, the coming change that artificial intelligence will introduce into the human work environment, the irony is that so many of these problems, the best and sometimes singular solution is a decentralized small regenerative ag system where there are millions of people around the world producing our food instead of nine companies that control 95% of the food produced on the planet.
Melanie Avalon: It's such an upsetting situation because I feel like a lot of the sides, I see both sides, the anti-animal, pro-vegan. I feel most people are, honestly, wanting what's best. They think that removing animal agriculture and doing a plant-based society is what's best for the environment. They think this might be best for health, they think animal products are linked to cancer and heart disease. I feel lot of people think that they're trying to do their best. Like you use the example unintended consequences in the book and you talked about, I don't remember the exact details, but it was something about, like something that happened in Rwanda, and then a company in Atlanta, do you know what I'm talking about? They sent like eggs to Rwanda.
Robb Wolf: I believe it was actually to Haiti. So, there's another film that's really fascinating, it's called Poverty, Inc. Hurricane hit Haiti and it got absolutely crushed. And people wanted to do something to help the folks there. So, we sent a bunch of food, we sent a bunch of clothes. And that seems great on the surface. But again, this is the unintended consequences. This is the thing that we don't always appreciate can occur. There were millions of eggs. So, it was a church that organized a bunch of fundraising and they sent up a bunch of eggs to Haiti. And what it did is it put the local egg producers out of business, it just crippled them because people could get free eggs. So, why were they going to buy the local eggs? That was okay until the aid disappeared, and then the infrastructure for growing their own chickens and eggs was gone.
A similar thing happened with all the clothing that was given, particularly shoes. Apparently, the cobbler industry or as a profession was pretty, pretty important within Haiti. And when they were just deluged with all these used free shoes, then these cobblers not only went out of business, but were unemployable. I don't know if this story made it into the book, but there's a story about in India, as India was developing and continues to develop, but this happened about 20 years ago. India's still a pretty wild place and one of the wild critters that populates the country is the cobra and they're very dangerous. There's a lot of them. The government in an effort, basically a public health initiative put out a reward for-- I forget if it was the head or the skin of a cobra or life, I forget exactly what the details were but show up at a governmental facility have your cobra or cobras and you got some money for it. And people jumped into that. They respond favorably to incentives. What people realized is that cobras breed like crazy.
What they did is started raising cobras and then selling the government these raised cobras, which wasn't really the intent. The intent was to reduce the number of cobras at large within the environment. So, then the government ended the cash for cobras' program. And then all of these cobra breeders just dumped the cobras out into the streets. And then the problem was, like, tenfold worse. And there are so many examples again, of this, like good intention going horribly wrong. And this is something, again, that when people throw out this notion that we just need to do away with animal husbandry and then the planet will be saved. It sounds awesome. It just may not be true. And if you really are concerned about things like, inequality and the future of the human race and the future of the planet, it kind of be huge to you to at least do what you would do in high school debate class. Try arguing the topic from the opposite side, just as an experiment, do a little bit of research on the topic from the opposite side. If nothing else-- if what Diana and I are suggesting in the book is inaccurate, the exercise of going through that will make folks much more effective at dismantling what we're saying. But if people are wrong in the assumption that planet of the vegans is the only path toward sustainability, then it's really important to get that right and to understand it sooner as opposed to later.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, 100%. That's why on this show, in particular, I love seeking out every different viewpoint of things. When I think I have an idea about something, I want to read the opposing viewpoint in detail because I want to know why I might be wrong. Just reading my own perspective doesn't seem to really help. And that cobra story, it wasn't in the book, but I heard you say it recently on a show, and that blew my mind. I was like, that is just a brilliant example of unintended consequences. It's hard though, because it's like in any given situation, where do you draw the line? You may think you're doing something that's helpful, but then it's not. And so, where is the responsibility? Where does that come into play?
I think that's why a lot of people, especially in the plant-based world will say-- you’ve talked about this in the book, the amount of actual deaths caused by a system, inclusive of animals or regenerative type system, compared to plant-based system. Actually, there's way more actual life loss of death when you consider habitats, insects, rodents, rats, things like that. There's actually much more death [laughs] on that side of things. I didn't mean to laugh, but there is. We can be presented with these facts. But then in our day to day life, I think people often say is, “Well, I'm not causing that harms. If I eat plants, I didn't kill anything.” What do you say to people who use that argument?
Robb Wolf: Before we head into that, I want to share one thing. Joel Salatin, great guy, pretty well known in the regenerative ag scene, he was giving a talk. And there were some folks there that were vegan, and they were like, “Well you make a compelling case, but we just personally don't want to eat meat. What's going to happen in that case?” And Joel said, “If you let me feed my family the way that I want to feed them, then I guarantee you, I promise you, I will make enough food so you can feed your family the way that you want to feed them.” And that is a remarkably different posture than what is being presented from the folks that are advocating this kind of vegan centric worldview.
They're largely putting forward that you're a bad person, amoral, horrible, and they want to legislate the right away to own animals, to raise animals. And nobody's advocating for like, horrific animal husbandry in environments, we're advocating for exactly the opposite. It doesn't have to slide into some silly kind of place with that. We can both improve the lives of these animals and ultimately eat them. That is a really ironic thing for a lot of people that's tough to wrap their head around. I think the best response that I have on that, that idea that will, I'm not directly causing the death of something. This is kind of part and parcel with a major problem within Western culture at large. We are terrified of death. We can't wrap our head around the fact that we will die, everything will die, at some point the sun will die, the planet will die. Everything will at some point, and that's a really terrifying thing for some people. And this is where like practice is really valuable because it's a gut check. It's a gut check to realize that we are part of a cycle that we live, we die. The calcium in our bones is the consequence of other stars having died, and the simpler elements getting fused, and more complex elements in the heart of a star. So, there's just this very almost kind of Hindu or spiritual giant timespan look at the cycle of life. And we are wholly divorced from that.
I think that people have this terror of death, and they want to mitigate death at every turn. And again, this isn't saying that we should be terrible, the people are terrible to animals. But the irony again, this has been done in scientific published papers, looking at the amount of death that occurs in a regenerative agriculture system that is focused primarily on grass and large grazing animals. And what that ends up doing is actually creating more habitat. It increases species diversification, like the Audubon Society has historically been very quickly towards grazing animals. But what they've been finding is in regeneratively, managed pasture land, the local bird populations are exploding because the habitat is getting restored.
Whereas in any row crop centric model, the only thing you can do is eradicate the life that's trying to eat those row crops and that goes from the insects, to the invertebrates, to the snakes and the small mammals, like is a mouse's life equal the same amount as a cow's life? They're both mammals, they have similar lifespans in some cases. Some people will say that a cow was more valuable because it's bigger. That seems size, [laughs] it's silly. And this is where some of this kind of social justice warrior stuff, some of it is so silly that it becomes remarkably self-contradictory at just the drop of a hat. But just a reality that life is tough in some ways. It is a gut check to realize that for me to live, something is going to die, whether it's plants or animals. At some point, I'm going to die, and I'm going to end up back in that cycle.
My initial thought was that this person saying, “Well, I don't want to directly cause that death.” I was going to say it was cowardly, and that's too harsh of a term, but I think that it is so ill-informed as to what reality is and what life is that it's on par with like flat earth and the lizard people run Facebook or something like it is really divorced from reality. And I get it, it is a harsh reality. But that is also part of recognizing that harshness is part of what can cultivate real empathy and compassion. Empathy and compassion isn't if you agree with me, then we're all cool. And if you disagree with me, I'm going to try to grind you under my boot, which is a lot of what's happening in society right now.
Real empathy and compassion is looking at someone that you may not even really agree with, but seeing as much similarity and as much humanity there as you possibly can. And it's interesting, like the people that I encounter, that really grok that, that really get that we are all part of this cycle and we are here for a very limited time engagement, they just add[?] as default mode seem to be such kinder, gentler people whereas the folks that are in this really militant, no animals can be killed under any circumstances. It's ironic. They're incredibly unempathetic, unkind people for the most part. These are the only people in my life that I've ever received death threats from. These are the only people I've ever encountered that have threatened my children because they're so enamored with the ideology that they're espousing.
I'm not the type of person that will go change anybody's mind at gunpoint, but it gets to be a lot when I face that from the opposite side.
Melanie Avalon: I love the empathy equation. Actually, the episode that released I think, this week, or last Friday was with Dr. David Perlmutter. And we talked deep about empathy. I take it one step further, though, and this was the question that I don't know the answer to. So, empathy would be seeing something from somebody else's viewpoints. So, in order for me to have empathy, wouldn't I have to have empathy for viewpoints that aren't empathetic? Because to those people, that's their viewpoint.
Robb Wolf: It's very true. Again, this is kind of that high school debate class, which is remarkable that we just don't do stuff like that. It's such an amazing critical thinking skill. At a minimum in thinking that through, thinking about someone who-- okay, what would life be like if you're an unempathetic person? it's going to be miserable. Even though you may not want to partake of a life like that, like you might not want to be friends with that person, you might not want to marry them. But you can, at least in the back of your mind, or somewhere in your soul be like, “Oh, I feel bad for that person, because they're probably suffering because of this worldview.” And you can do that, but then also protect yourself from the negativity of that worldview at the same time, the two aren't mutually exclusive. And I don't want to sound like I'm on some sort of like moral high horse, but I'm just stunned by the seeming inability for people to hold either two ideas in their mind at the same time to say nothing potentially conflicting or somewhat antagonistic ideas and play them back and forth, and see that the world isn't just this black and white deal that there's a lot of gray to it at oftentimes.
Melanie Avalon: One of the most haunting studies I ever read, and you might be familiar with it, but it's the work they've done split-brain patients. There's been so many experiments where they'll have patients with split-brains, where they're at the different hemispheres of their brain aren't communicating correctly, and because I forget the details exactly. But because part of our brain controls what we say and part of our brain controls what we see, and part of our brain controls different things. They will have these patients where their brains aren't connected, and they'll show them pictures of things that one part of their brain doesn't know that they saw, and then they'll ask them why they did certain things. They'll make up stories for why they did things, that they don't actually have a reason, that they weren't aware that they did. It made me realize that we literally know nothing. If people's brains can come up with fake memories, and they can honestly remember doing things that never happened, I was like, I know nothing.
Robb Wolf: It makes reality very malleable, which is again, a scary thing.
Melanie Avalon: But to that point, actually, I was recently watching The Lion King, which is my all-time favorite Disney film and there's a quote in there, I was like, man-- I was like, basically every child needs to watch Lion King and then when they're older, they need to read Sacred Cow and then we'll be good. But even in that film like Simba asked Mufasa, he's confused about the antelope or something, I don't know, because they eat the antelope, and what's going on there. And Mufasa is basically like, I actually pulled off the quote, because it's just so simple, but it just summarizes all of it. He says, “When we die, our bodies become the grass and the antelope eat the grass. And so, we are all connected in the great circle of life.” And that's just such a simple idea, but I think it's so profound.
You talked in the book Sacred Cow, your coauthor, Diana told the story and it really stuck with me about her daughter Phoebe.
Robb Wolf: It's really powerful. They have an operating regenerative farm in Carlisle, Massachusetts, and they went out one day and one of the sheep had been killed by a coyote and partially eaten. And Phoebe was really upset. I mean, they love these animals, they take good care of them and everything. Diana just said, you see all these plants growing and those plants need blood, like where that sheep bled and where the parts are, they just ended up burying it and composting it. That's going to produce amazing food next year for the sheep. They're like the grass there and everything. And so, Phoebe was noodling on that and she said, “Oh, it's impossible to really be vegan because all life feeds on life.” And this was like, a 10-year-old girl but you unencumbered the mind with the way that things should be or these kind of preconceived. notions and just give it a reality and we arrive at some really fascinating conclusions.
Again, this doesn't mean that you know, everything that happens industrial animal husbandry is good or should be advocated for or should be supported. We can move towards a much more humane and sustainable food system, particularly on the animal husbandry side, but thinking that we can just grow food in a vat or that we can just do row crops forever, that is entirely dependent on synthetic chemical fertilizer inputs, and that is destroying our topsoil. And that's not an opinion, that's a well-understood fact. And this is one of the things that really has the big food producers scratching their heads.
Merck pharmaceuticals had Diana go to Thailand to give a talk to some pig farmers there, because Merck recognizes that we have about 15 or 20 years before all antibiotics will be worthless for both humans and animals. But 85% of the antibiotics used are for animals. It's a dead-end street and people don't appreciate that. Pre-antibiotic era, like very simple infections that we experience now were fatal. It's just crazy the implications of what could happen if we don't get ahead of that. But these big food producers see an expiration date on what they're doing. They know that the synthetic chemical fertilizer process basically makes all of the action occur right at the surface. And so, you don't get the deep roots within the grass systems. You don't get the fungi interacting with bacteria and water capture in sequestering carbon under the soil. You just get topsoil that blows away or washes away every year. And once that topsoil is gone, it is eons to rebuild. It's very slow and difficult to rebuild that stuff.
When you when you start looking at the notion that a regenerative food system that includes animals may be the only thing that we could use, that could still be here 1000 years from now, then it starts changing the ethics discussion. Is it ethical to do anything but that if that's the case? Is it ethical to do anything but a meat inclusive food system if it's difficult, bordering on impossible to feed human beings, particularly children or people at risk or low income to get them adequate nutrition any other way than a meat-inclusive diet?
Melanie Avalon: I guess the solution is we just need to be breatharians. [laughs] Well, I don’t know if that's a joke, but now I'm thinking about the implications of that actually. That's a whole dialogue.
Robb Wolf: Those folks are fascinating to me because there are people that really believe that if you were just spiritually pure enough, you can live like a plant and just take in sunlight and air. And the thing that's appalling to me about that is think about all of the famines, all of the hundreds of millions of people that have died in famine. According to these people, then their thesis is that they died because they weren't spiritually pure enough, or these people are completely divorced from the reality of life and death, and in simple things like biology and thermodynamics energy inputs and outputs. I don't like reducing things to like an either or, but that's kind of an either/or thing. These folks that really push this hyper-spiritual breatharian leaning type deal, they're basically suggesting that anyone that's ever died in a famine, they were just spiritually unpure.
Melanie Avalon: Also, to that point, I wonder what they would say about-- you mentioned like fungi for example. I mean, we know there are carnivorous mushrooms, and then before this conversation I was actually contemplating the Venus flytrap. I was like, “So, is the Venus flytrap being immoral and eating a fly?”
Robb Wolf: Folks will make the case are like, “Well, we have a choice.” In a way, we do. But in a way we don't. Again, when you look at the nutrient deficiencies that are rampant within folks that eschew animal products, it's a big problem. There was the EatLand set piece, which has been really, really soundly criticized, but it basically advocated for eating the equivalent of a blueberry sized portion of red meat per day and that was the maximum, blueberry.
Melanie Avalon: Literally a blueberry size?
Robb Wolf: Literally a blueberry size. Yeah. It was absolutely ridiculous. And the people that push back on that, and this came out of orthodox scientific community, but the folks that push back, they said, one, if we completely remove animal products out of the food system, we're only going to reduce in the US. The greenhouse gas footprint by about 2.8%. So, it's practically a rounding error. And even there, when we're talking about greenhouse gas emissions from living systems versus fossil fuel, it's entirely different. Again, life produce-- You and I are greenhouse gas emitters. We exhale carbon dioxide, but that's part of a carbon cycle. Methane that's released from herbivores, from termites, from shellfish, from rice paddies. That's all part of the biogenic system, but yet we vilify all greenhouse gases the same. And this is again, where we end up in some really big problems with being too simplistic about stuff. But if we think about the way that these food systems go together, and we ask that moralistic story, if we can't really feed ourselves adequately, without animal inputs, if we must have animal inputs, so two-thirds of the world's landmass are grasslands, they are amenable for nothing other than growing grants. Without herbivores on them in a biodynamic fashion, these grasslands die, so we must have animals on them one way or the other.
And if we have animals on them, we either need to reintroduce large amounts of big predators to keep their numbers under control, or we need to use them as food. [laughs] There's just no two ways around it. I really wish that there was. When we sat down to write this book, we line item a ton of-- basically all of the bullet points that we wanted to put in the book. And then we actually sat down and tried to disprove assumptions in there. And there were a couple of things that we started off assuming that we ended up completely abandoning ship, but on these topics of, is it moral to eat animals, you could make the case that it's immoral not to because you're not actually contributing to a properly balanced ecology and biodynamic process. Somebody individually doesn't want to do that, then that's fine, but trying to enact international level policy which is vilifying animal husbandry, particularly when we see examples of being able to reverse desertification. Like Diana in the Sacred Cow film, interviews, a rancher down in the Chihuahuan Desert where they've recovered a million acres of desert and turned it back into grassland. And the people who have lived in this area didn't even know that it could grow grass. Now this area where the grass is like, eyebrow high and the roots go down like 20 feet, it holds so much water, it's sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere.
When you start understanding that whole system, then again, you've got to ask the ethical question like, how could I not support a meat inclusive, grass centric food system?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, for listeners, you have to read Sacred Cow. Everything you just said, Robb, I learned so much because up until reading Sacred Cow, I feel like it was all just hot keywords that I had an idea about, but not really. So, it's like methane, carbon, regenerative agriculture, carbon sequestering, like mono-cropping. And this idea of, “Oh, that's good or that's bad.” But reading the book, I finally got an understanding of what's actually happening. You talk about how you know the difference in carbon that is already naturally present in the environment compared to releasing carbon from fossil fuels, which is releasing new carbon into the environment. Actually, right before this I was listening to an episode-- so I often listen to Rich Roll’s podcast because he's very vegan, but I think he's a really good interviewer and exposes me to a lot of different perspectives. His most recent episode was actually with, are you familiar with Margaret Klein Salamon?
Robb Wolf: I know the name. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: I was listening to it because I was curious because it said the topic was Climate Change. So, I was like, “Oh, yes. Rich Roll, I'm going to hear the opposite side viewpoint.” But they actually didn't go into really the animal side of things at all as much as like fossil fuels. And like how we've been completely lied to about the impact that's having on the environment also relate to this. One thing that you talk about in Sacred Cow, you have this idea of grass world, it was a really good picture of what happens when a whole system is not holistic and inclusive and has everything required to be sustainable. Could you talk briefly a little bit about that, like why a system does require animals and does require all of these factors to be sustainable?
Robb Wolf: One of the challenges that we've faced all the way along in this journey, it's asymmetric warfare what we're dealing with. The folks that are on the more vegan centric side of the story, it's like they're able to take a hand grenade and just throw it over the fence and run, and we have to then deal with it. It's like meat causes cancer and they lob it over the fence, meat causes heart disease, meat is going to destroy the planet.
Melanie Avalon: That really is how it goes. I'm just laughing. It was like they just said what the topic keywords, like you just throw out, climate change, global warming methane, done.
Robb Wolf: The science is settled. To unpack this, it's literally a mini PhD dissertation in ecology, thermodynamics, economics. It's hard to make any of that stuff interesting for people that aren't specifically into that. It's doubly hard to catch people's attention. And we were at a conference where somebody was doing a great discussion of just ecology, and I looked at Diana and I was like, “This is what we need to cover.” People just don't understand the basics of ecology and the way that life functions. I cooked up this idea of grass world and it's this idea through some weird circumstance, we end up with a second planet in our solar system, it's identical to Earth in every way except there's no light on it. It's easily accessible to us and we decide that we want to start populating it with some life. And people have the good idea of starting off with grass. And so, they send a probe over and they drop grass seeds on the ground and it rains and it snows and it does its thing and the grass grows, and then it dies. As the scientists scratch their head. They're like, “Oh, there's no nitrogen. We ran out of nitrogen. We need some nitrogen fixing bacteria. We need some soil microbiome interaction. Do we send like billions of tons of manure over there, or do we send something that can make billions of tons of manure?” So, we send cows.
We populate the land with grass, let it grow, we put cows on, it lasts a little bit longer, but the population of the cows outstrips the carrying capacity of the grass and the whole system collapses again. Now we're thinking about it. We're like, okay, we need something to control the population of the cows. And so, it's grass, then cows, and then wolves. And in this situation, we have a system of very rudimentary system that can go on more or less indefinitely. I don't know if they still make these things. But there used to be these enclosed grass worlds that had like fairy shrimp and snails and kelp. And so long as you had light that shone in there, the kelp would grow and then the fairy shrimp would eat the kelp and then the snails would eat the fairy shrimp and everything would die and recycle. These things could last for years. But these little ecosystems are incredibly brittle, they are not resilient.
Back to our example of grass world. If one bacteria one virus changed, and it killed the grass, the cows, or the wolves, the whole system fails. And so, what you then want is lots of different types of grasses, lots of different types of herbivores. And you don't just want an apex carnivores, you want lots of omnivores and smaller niche organisms that like voles and mice. You want as much ecological diversity as you can possibly get. And the irony is that the vegan centric row crop model of food systems, which is what the world default is today, looks remarkably similar to that incredibly precarious grass world situation. It can go on for a while, but we're going to lose our topsoil at some point. Then that's all going to come to an end. But the interesting thing is that moving towards this regenerative system increases biodiversity. It increases the number of options that we have. And this is still really in its infancy, like most of the herds of animals that are being used in the United States, it should be a mixture of goats and bison and camels and a bunch of different animals. Part of that is going to require some cultural adjustments.
Some groups, different folks from Africa and different folks out of Latin America really like goat. I like goat a lot too. But that's because I've had a lot of folks that are friends from Latin America, and I developed a taste for it. But if even under the current models that we're using, it could work so much better if we use more biodiversity versus less. It shouldn't just be cows. The reason why we focus so much on cows though, is that they've disproportionately taken a bad rap in this whole story, but it's cool. I'm stoked that you mentioned that grass world story. That's been maybe the greatest point of feedback that we've had about the book is that people were like this really, really make sense. And in the film, I think we have a very nice animated portrayal of that whole process to help people wrap their heads around it.
Melanie Avalon: You were talking about how it can often be a dry topic, like, it can be hard to understand. And it can seem, like I said, dry but the grass world was the perfect analogy. And then the book in general, just made it really interesting because my mind just kept being blown, like just blown. You were talking about how there's often this argument that cows require so much feed or land and things like that, but then you pointed out that when cows are on pasture, like 90% of what they could eat is stuff that we couldn't eat, trying to get into food that we can eat, or and you talked about, like the different types of water.
Robb Wolf: That's another piece to this that's really interesting, and this is a very common hand grenade this lobbed over the fence. It takes way more food to raise animals than if you just directly fed it to people. That misrepresents things on two levels, when we're talking specifically about cattle, and it's ironic. I'll talk about the cattle but try to remind me to circle back to chickens and pork here in a little bit. But cows, even cows that ended up in a CAFO feedlot system, they spend 70% of their lives on grass. When people are doing the numbers, basically saying that a certain amount of food has been allocated to raising these animals, some of what they're including in that, a significant portion of what they're including in that is grass, which last I checked, humans cannot eat. And most of the areas where you can grow grass, you can't grow crops. So, it's not competing with or stealing food away from somewhere else.
And then when we get past that, when we look at the actual crop residues that are fed to cows, the bulk of it, nearly 80% of it is leftovers from the ethanol industry. And nobody is going after booze or bioethanol as like this stealing food from people or anything like that. So, when you really look at the numbers on that, it's ironic because actually what cows represent, they aren't stealing nutrition away from anybody. They're upcycling, super low nutritional quality foodstuffs, and turning it into a highly nutrient dense food that is perfect for humans to eat. The actual reality is so far from what is being portrayed. This is one of these things where get this wrong and we really might destroy humanity. This is one of these things that is really critical to understand.
On the water resource piece, it's portrayed that animal products, specifically beef are much more water intensive than these vegetable products. But what's fascinating when you get in and look at the water that is allocated in these different stories, we have green water, which is rain, snow and other precipitation that falls on the earth. We have blue water that is in lakes, streams and underground reservoirs. And then we have grey water which is the effluent or the leftovers from any type of an industrial process. And 96% to 98% of the water, whether we're talking conventionally raised meat or regenerative meat comes from green water. It comes from the water that just falls on the earth raising grass, but it's portrayed as if we are stealing that water from somewhere else that we could be using it to like grow crops or something like that. And there's no pushback about things like almonds, which are grown in these, mainly in California, these quite arid environments where the almond growers own the rights to the water in a remarkable number of places, such that the cities that are there cannot get drinking water. They have to drive in drinking water in trucks. But yet they raised the almonds, and 80% of the almonds that are raised in the United States are exported to China. So, we're basically exporting our groundwater in our most productive agricultural area, California, and exporting it to China.
When you think about the carbon footprint and the resource allocation, nobody is up in arms over what's happening with almonds, and then the impact of all of the herbicides and pesticides and almonds and the impact on bees as an example. This is where it's really important to just get a little bit more nuanced of a picture on this. If people are dubious like, “I don't know. I don't know if I buy what this guy says.” That's great. Don't buy what I say, but at least get in and look at the numbers on this stuff, read the primary research, and then you tell me where we got this stuff wrong because I will update it in a hot minute. I don't want to be wrong, I don't want to have inaccuracies and in any of the stuff that we have, but we worked on this book for four years, it was nearly 600 pages when we turned it in, and I think it published it like 280 pages. We tried to make it both readable, but also comprehensive.
Both Diane and I have kids. My kids are a little younger than hers. Some of the criticism that we've had out of the vegan land is we just really don't care about the world. And to say that to a parent-- this is again that lack of empathy thing. And I've said, “I do have kids.” And these people will just say, “Well, you clearly don't care about them.” And it's like, “Okay, well, maybe, or maybe we've both looked at some data. And we've drawn different conclusions from that. And maybe we should have a discussion around that.”
Melanie Avalon: This is why your message is so valuable. And what were you going to say about the chicken and pork?
Robb Wolf: It's interesting. When you talk about the resource allocation that goes into producing meat products. Beef, lamb--even lamb actually is almost 100% grass-fed. Even in the United States, it's really grain-finished goat. All those things mainly eat grass. When we start talking about chicken and pork, they almost exclusively are fed grains and soybean products. And an ironic feature is, over the last 30 years, we've dramatically decreased our consumption of red meat from beef and dramatically increased mainly chicken but also pork. And if you wanted to make the case, there was a resource misallocation somewhere, it's in chicken and pork. Those things prior to World War Two when we developed the industrial food system, one of the sale points of developing the industrial food system was this term “A Chicken in Every Pot.” Because chicken used to be a really rare treat, because chicken is a secondary or tertiary player in an ecosystem. Primary players always were large grazing animals that operated on grass.
And so, it's only been with the intensification available via the industrial food system that you could take these minor players pork and chicken and make them primary players. But there's two features there to really consider that antibiotic use story, you cannot industrially raise chicken and pork without antibiotics. They turn into a steaming cesspool of disease. They kind of do anyway, but they, they beat that down with massive amounts of antibiotics. And then the other piece is, there legitimately is resource misallocation, you could make the case of like grain and soybean products getting fed to animals. But this is where well-meaning but ill-informed people make this a really big problem.
Leonardo DiCaprio made this film in conjunction with National Geographic Society called Before the Flood. And he goes through the bulk of the film, basically decrying the evils of animal husbandry as part of our food system focusing mainly on cattle. And at the end of the film, he makes the case that people should shift away from eating beef and eat more chicken. And if we really want to address the climate change topic, if we really want to address the sustainability topic, that is literally 180 degrees away from the direction that we should go. We should be eating less chicken and pork and more beef, lamb, camel goats, those sorts of things. But this is where well-funded well-meaning people that don't do the diligence to really figure this stuff out are ill informing millions of people and then it's this trench warfare trying to undo that stuff. Folks feel like they're in a position of being well informed and they're really not.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, for listeners who are further interested in all the chicken craziness. I recently had Anya Fernald on the podcast and she went deep into the chicken industry and I was like, “Oh, dear,” it was very shocking. Camel, so eating camel, have you had camel?
Robb Wolf: It's amazing.
Melanie Avalon: Really? What does it taste like?
Robb Wolf: It depends a little bit on what it's eating.
Melanie Avalon: Is it a red meat?
Robb Wolf: It's a red meat and it would be more akin to lamb. But it tends to be a little more marbled. They're fairly robustly marbled. Like a Wagyu beef would probably be a similar, most analogous thing.
Melanie Avalon: So, it fatty.
Robb Wolf: It tends to be a little bit but it's marbled. It's in there. It's mixed into it.
Melanie Avalon: Do you know if it has an omega-3 favorable profile? I'm just curious. That's a random question.
Robb Wolf: This is a point that we've had a fair amount of yanks that has come out of the--
Melanie Avalon: I know what you're about to say and I was about to ask you about it. [laughs]
Robb Wolf: Yeah. When we sat down and outline the book, like I said, we had all these bullet points. We had one of the bullet points was pastured meat is more nutritious than conventional meat. We gathered up every bit of literature possible, and we looked at it. And what we found was that pastured meat had slightly more omega-3 fats than conventional meat, and it was effectively indistinguishable in every other way, like iron, B vitamins. There was just virtually no difference at all. Pastured dairy is much more nutritious than conventional dairy. Pastured eggs far more nutritious. Wild seafood much more nutritious. But when we looked at it, red meat, specifically beef, there just wasn't that much of a difference. We tortured and fiddled the information every way because we knew that there was going to be this kind of uprising against us around this. People will cite the omega-3 fats in red meat. But the thing is, is that a three-ounce piece of salmon has more omega-3s than eight pounds of beef. Although beef is a source of long-chain omega fats, it's not an outstanding source of long-chain omega fats. At the end of the day, the real wacky takeaway is just that meat is highly nutritious and that's the long and short of it.
We even hired an independent PhD food researcher, PhD in biochemistry and nutritional biochemistry and said, “Hey, we want you to do a piece comparing and contrasting the nutritional characteristics of grass-fed versus conventional meat.” We didn't give them any of our information, didn't skew him one way or the other. And he arrived at exactly the same spot. We've had people just hopping mad at us about that. I swear it would be great, like, when you watch one of the vegan documentaries, veganism improves your sex life and it makes you more spiritually pure, and you will never die at all, but if you do, it's just going to be a bus accident, and it's not going to be cardiovascular disease, it is perfect. There's no gotchas in there. But we've got a couple of gotchas. And one of them is just that pastured meat is superior from an ethical standpoint, it's superior from a regenerative standpoint, sustainability standpoint, but you can't make a really credible argument around nutrition.
You can make a case around the potential of bio-accumulation things like Atrazine and even aflatoxin, ironically when they do feed animals, grains or grain products, and if those grains have been contaminated with mold, you can get a remarkable amount of aflatoxin like enough to injure or kill people. But that is a separate topic from just basic nutrition, which is looking at essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. When we look at it purely from the nutritional standpoint, there's just not that much difference.
Melanie Avalon: So, the omega-3-six thing, I'm a big fan of the work of Ray Peat, if you're familiar with him. The people on those forums and boards are very much anti-PUFA, polyunsaturated fats, actually, both, in general. I've definitely been diving deeper into the Omega-6, omega-3, and granted I think the main issue with omega-6 exposure today isn't meat. It's the seed oils. But what do you think are the implications?
Let's say a person is consuming a whole foods diet and either consuming conventional meat for their life compared to grass-fed pastured, even though the amount of omega-3 is not substantially more, I wonder if the ratio is, has implications because like the chart in your book, I know it was averages and that was one thing you pointed out in the book was that the numbers are like all over the board. The average of like, pastured was like 14 grams of omega-3 to 67 grams of omega-6 for, I think it was 100-gram sample, and then like conventional was 20.
Robb Wolf: I think it's probably micrograms per 100 grams, or milligram. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: So, numbers aside, like the ratio was so substantially different, seemed like it's around, like in that example around 20% of the omegas was omega-3 compared to around like 6%. Do you think there's any implications because our cellular membranes tend to reflect the ratio of our diet? So, do you think there's any implications there of having a more favorable ratio?
Robb Wolf: Maybe but I think that this is getting into that area of really diminishing returns. Diana has a good analogy, and I'm blanking on the specifics, but the analogy she uses is if we think about $1, is made up of potentially 100 pennies, when we're talking about that omega-3, omega-6 ratio, like pastured meat is one penny, conventional meat is two pennies out of $1. When you look at the amount of monounsaturated fat, saturated fat, protein, all that stuff, it is just so-- yeah, the ratio is typically a little bit different, but it is absolutely tiny amounts. And so, if you get into that stuff, then you really cannot use olive oil ever because it's got way more omega-6 fats than beef does have either variety. You can never have almonds, far, far, far more omega-6s, as an absolute amount to say nothing of the ratios. Ratios are much higher, but there's actually a significant amount there. And so that starts getting into squirrelly area for me.
I make the case that there are some people that are very sick, they're very sensitive to foods and pastured meat is the only meat that they don't react negatively to. That's A category, but it's a very small number of people. Beyond that, my big case for supporting local decentralized regenerative agriculture is to keep that stuff alive long enough that it can expand and become the default. And so, people with the resources to support a system like that should probably do it. And then people that family of four living at the margin, I would dramatically prefer seeing them getting Costco beef versus eating more bagels or beans or rice. I think the nutrition, the health, the satiety is all going to play out really favorably. I don't agree with a very much of what Ray Peat throws out there. But it is interesting that if you use whether you're talking grass-fed meat or pastured meat, a very meat-centric diet plays much closer to his notions around the favorability of say, like saturated fat and that whole story, then fish as an example.
Melanie Avalon: Something fascinating was between conventional and pastured, that the saturated fat was pretty much the same. It's really the monounsaturated fat where you get the large increase or not large, but the more fat. Are you familiar with the work of Teri Cochrane, Wildatarian?
Robb Wolf: I don't think so. No.
Melanie Avalon: She's fascinating, and I had her on the show. She has the whole theory about amyloid protein formation in conventionally raised agriculture. And basically, she thinks that when these animals are in these stressed environments, that it actually creates truncated amyloid proteins in their meat that our bodies can't digest. And she thinks that's actually a root cause a lot of our health conditions today. Her approach, like I said, it's called Wildatarian. I should connect you guys because she's just fascinating. But, yeah, she makes an argument that eating conventional meat creates these amyloid type buildups in our body that we can't digest and creates a lot of health conditions. It's fascinating.
Robb Wolf: Super Interesting. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: I know we're running out of time. Just a few more last quick questions. Nuclear energy. Was that something that if we were able to do it, like would be a solution? I don't remember if or it would not.
Robb Wolf: Yeah, I mean, this gets people mad immediately, and you. It's one of those things if you want to check the temperature of a dinner party or something, you come out on the side for nuclear energy, but I forget how we wove it into the book. But I made the case that if you're really concerned about climate change, and you're railing against animal husbandry, but yet not focusing on the outputs of the current transportation system, then it's really misguided. People will talk about Fukushima and Three Mile Island and stuff like that. The main point that I make is just the following, if people can't, with alacrity, describe the difference between a generation one versus a generation four or five nuclear reactor, if they can't talk about the potential around thorium reactors and the difference that that is versus a gen one, which is what all of these nuclear accidents have occurred in, you might be operating from a place of really inadequate information to really make much of a decision. If you don't easily off the top of your head know that the difference between a gen one versus gen four reactor and what the implications are for safety and decentralization, whatnot, then there might be a problem there. People will push back on that, like nuclear energy.
What's ironic to me is, whenever folks avoid something from both the right and the left side of the political aisle, it's almost a guarantee that you're onto something good. And if you want to see folks push back against something from both sides of the aisle, its nuclear energy and so it gets my curiosity up a good bit.
Another reason thing that I would throw out there for people to consider, and it blows me away how young many of the folks that are listening to podcasts now. But the first cellphone that I had, I got it as part of my job in 1996. And this thing was, it was about 15 pounds. It had an external battery pack that was like the size of a car battery that you had to hump around with it. And it had terrible service, there was not even the thought of texting on it. And now a little over 20 years later, we have something that it's not even on the same planet with regards to the technological advancements that have occurred here.
My point to that is that we have so many examples of shocking technical advancements, except in the energy circles. We haven't really seen these newer generation nuclear reactors come online, because there's not really the public will to or the political will to push for that. And it's just ironic. It's one of these things that if people have really strong feelings about it one way or the other, I would just really encourage folks to be able to get to a conversational tone, like you could sit down with a nuclear engineer, and at least have a passing conversation about like, “Hey, man, talk to me about what was the difference between a gen one versus gen three? And then how is the gen four improved, like the water handling and pressure?” You should be at that level of conversation, in my opinion, to be able to have some sort of an informed opinion about the topic. Ironically, I think once you got to that point, you would actually see nuclear energy as being pretty potentially favorable.
Melanie Avalon: Gotcha. Yeah. My context for asking was, I was just thinking hypothetically, if a person wanted an ideal system that didn't create any animal death that was also sustainable and regenerative, would it be like a lab-grown meat city situation powered by nuclear energy.
Robb Wolf: Kind of, but it still circles back around to what are we going to do with all that grassland? And so, if we don't have grazing animals on grassland and even these desertified areas, the grasslands will die, and they will desertify. Some people again will say, “Well, just put grazing animals there and just let them go.” Well, you can't just let them go. They will outstrip the carrying capacity of their grasslands. So, then we either need to manage their populations by eating them or we need to introduce large predators like mountain lions and wolves and these are like coyotes can be kind of nasty too. But these are big apex predators that kill humans, not in a nontrivial numbers when the population density gets high enough. People living in urban centers may be like, “Oh, that's fine. I don't really care about that.” But if you live in more of a suburban area where you are encircled with grasslands that would need grazing animals to maintain them, and you would need a large active predator population, that may not be as appealing as many people that just kind of flippantly put this stuff forward. It may not be quite as appealing.
Melanie Avalon: So, if that did happen. If flipped the switch, and all of a sudden, we're doing lab meat, nuclear energy, and we'd stopped all farming and everything, it would revert to a desert or animal overgrowth?
Robb Wolf: An interesting thing with desertified areas or grasslands in general, you can overgraze them and you can under graze them. Overgrazing will turn them into desert, undergrazing will turn them into desert. There's this nice balance, and I don't know if it's a great analogy, but I think about it similar to exercise. We need exercise in order to be healthy. It's a stimulus or a something that damages us to some degree, that then the adaptation, the hormetic stress that occurs is really where the benefit comes from. It's not in doing the thing, it's in recovering from it. This is very similar to animals that are properly managed. And this is a piece that I didn't really mention, but we talk about in the book.
Historically, these huge herds of grazing animals are very tightly packed, they are continually moving, and they're tightly packed together, because they picked that from the periphery by predators. And when we remove predators-- when a large group of animals or grazing animals move through an area in this way, which we can simulate this with electric fencing, keep them pack together, but move them very rapidly through an area. They eat everything. Then you move them off that area, and the area recovers, it gets fertilized, it gets all kinds of microbes injected into the system. And then weeks or months later, when the animals come back to that spot, the grass has regrown and typically even better than what it was before.
When you remove that predator-prey interaction, we then have to do something like portable electric fencing and holistically manage movement of the animals. Otherwise, the animals will overgraze an area, and that that can be very bad, too. We have lots of examples of that. But there's a balance between doing nothing versus overgrazing.
Melanie Avalon: Gotcha. Well, thank you so much. This conversation has been so valuable. We've been talking about so much I think just education surrounding the topic is so key. I know a lot of people will want to be like, just tell me what to do. But thankfully, in your book, I had to laugh. In the beginning of the book, you basically say if you want to just be told what to do, flip to this page, but you really just want people to read the whole thing, but I was going to ask where the publishers like you got to like
have a go-to section.
Robb Wolf: That was largely our idea. A little interesting side note to that, Diana had been passed by like every publisher under the sun. And then the folks who published The China Study picked up the book. This is BenBella publishing, mainly what they publish are vegan based books. When they read the manuscript, they were just jaw dropped. They're like, “We can't not publish this because we're feeling like we've maybe driven things in a direction that is inaccurate and we need to fix it.” For the people that may be push back on like, “I don't know, that guy sounded like a kook.” The people that publish this published the original China Study.
Melanie Avalon: It's huge. Listeners, get the book. Like I said, it does have a whole section on how to practically make choices every single day to support regenerative agriculture, support sustainability of our environment, of our health, of everything. Last question I asked every single guest on this podcast and it's just because I've come to realize how important mindset is surrounding everything. What is something that you're grateful for?
Robb Wolf: Oh, man, I'm definitely grateful for my wife and my family. My wife believed in me when I didn't have two nickels to rub together and was just getting started in this whole scene. I am not the easiest person to live with. She's been absolutely amazing. And my daughters are just the joy of my life. I am infinitely grateful for them.
Melanie Avalon: Well, thank you so much, Robb. I'm going to start crying again. I am so grateful for your work, I cannot even express. Actually, when I released my book, What When Wine, I’ll have to send you a copy if I haven't already.
Robb Wolf: I’ve got it. I'm looking at it right now. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, you're in the acknowledgments. [laughs] Well, you've had such a profound impact on my life and you're having such a profound impact on our world. Thank you for everything you're doing. Thank you. Any links you want to put out there for people to follow your work?
Robb Wolf: sacredcow.info is where all the actions happening with that. I really do encourage folks, whatever side of this kind of discussion that you lie, that you exist in, I just really beg people to do some more diligence, like wherever you are on this thing. We have hundreds and hundreds of citations. And I'm not necessarily suggesting that you go through like everyone, certainly, if you want to, by all means, do it. But if there's a section that you're like, “I don't know, I don't know if this really makes sense.” Read the primary literature that we cited in there, get in and dig into that, and you do some analysis and if we got something wrong, then write us a letter, do a blog post, tag us in it and explain how we got something wrong, but we've really got to move beyond just, “Well, it doesn't make sense,” or, “I just disagree,” or whatever.
It's too important of a topic that if what we're saying is true, to be ignored. And it's too important of a topic that if what we are saying is wrong, to let us get away with it being wrong. So, it really needs to be vetted out. And it needs to be pressure tested, but just simply, again, like throwing these hand grenades over the fence, and then running away and not doing the diligence of kind of fleshing this out, we need to do better than that. All of us need to do better than that.
Melanie Avalon: I could not agree more. Well, thank you so much. Listeners, get Sacred Cow. I will put links to all of this in the show notes. Get Sacred Cow for yourself, get it for every other person in your life, perfect gift for anybody. Thank you so much. I'm so appreciative of your work, and hopefully I can bring you back on in the future. I could talk to you for hours. I loved every second of your time. So, thank you.
Robb Wolf: Anytime you want me to bring down property values, I'll do it. Always happy to do it.
Melanie Avalon: Thank you so much, Rob.