One thing this event emphasized for me, however, was the importance of skepticism in the animal rights movement, both in the message we sell to non-vegans and in correcting the misinformation we hear from other vegans.
In the post Tasha describes how she had been told, and had unskeptically accepted, that a vegan diet would be a miraculous panacea for her health.
Everything I had ever been told by vegans had said that this was the optimum way for humans to eat.
Just as I described in my Why Skeptic post Tasha describes how her beliefs were impacted simply by her desire for them to be true.
I wanted veganism to work. I wanted desperately for it to be right, for my ethics to outweigh my physiology.
When these unrealistic hopes and nutritional misinformation she had been fed didn't pan out, she was all too ready to gobble up an entirely new set of pseudo-scientific claims when a few bits of her previous worldview were shown to be false.
I listened patiently, refuting her [the doctor's] claims with the knowledge I’ve gleaned over the years. After all, I wasn’t just a regular vegan, I was a hardcore, self-righteous and oh so judgmental vegangelical. I never passed up an opportunity for some preaching. She was prepared. Just as patiently she explained how many of the ‘facts’ I was quoting were just plain wrong, or had been presented in a way that distorted the truth. It was horrifying and I almost passed out in her office because I was so worked up.
What if instead of blindly believing that a vegan diet would be a panacea of health Tasha had taken advice from Ginny of the Vegan RD, Jack Norris, or any registered dietitian following the advice of the American Dietetic Association. Had we taken the time to address misinformation within our own ranks we could have prevented this meteoric impact into the animal rights movement. Now, we are instead left with a smoldering ruin of Weston A. Price inspired naturo-babble.
I think Ginny (the Vegan RD) makes an excellent point about what causes some vegans to fail.
I believe that a lot of vegans get sick and return to eating meat when all they needed was more sound information about vegan diets and less misinformation from the pseudo-scientific anti-vegan world (as well as the pseudo-scientific pro-vegan world.)
The enemy of success in the animal rights movement is not anti-vegan information, but misinformation on both sides.
I have talked with Jamie of Skeptical Vegan and we have agreed to go through several of the new pseudo-scientific claims being made by the Voracious Eats blog in greater detail.
One of the best bits of skepticism I saw in response to the Voracious Eats post, however, was a comment left on Reddit in response.
I am a meat-eating omnivore and I'd love to be validated but this piece just has a funny smell to it. We very quickly go from health problems to painting vegans as self-rightous woman-haters. It feels like in an earlier draft they were perhaps anti-semetic puppy-kickers but it got switched before publishing.
Seriously, how many closet meat-eating vegan bloggers would out themselves after a simple email?
While I can agree that maintaining a healthy vegan diet can be difficult and perhaps impossible for some people I just can't believe this article which is so obviously playing on misplaced emotions to persuade the reader.
I assure you that there are no closet meat-eaters behind the scenes at this blog.