It’s not unusual for us to have a report which insists that if only we do this or that – say, we all grout dog toenails for 20 minutes a day – that death rates will fall by some massive amount. We shouldn’t moan too much about this for that department of dog toenail grouting does have to broadcast, even at the expense of overestimation, the results of their research. However else would the budget for Islington Technical College increase next year?
There is a problem here though. When we add up all the deaths that will be prevented by the varied new and exciting theories we find that we’ve prevented more deaths than actually occur. Obviously, that’s great, a negative death rate would mean we all live forever. Or, perhaps, we should investigate these claims a little more?
At least one-third of early deaths could be prevented if everyone moved to a vegetarian diet, Harvard scientists have calculated.
Dr Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School said the benefits of a plant-based diet had been vastly underestimated.
Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics suggested that around 24 per cent or 141,000 deaths each year in Britain were preventable, but most of that was due to smoking, alcohol or obesity.
But the new figures from Harvard suggest that at least 200,000 lives could be saved each year if people cut meat from their diets.
Yes, OK, the 200 k is not just British deaths so the snark isn’t quite called for. But they have managed to fail Chesterton’s Fence here which is also not a good look for a scientific enquiry:
British-born Professor David Jenkins, of the University of Toronto, who is credited with developing the glycemic index which explains how carbohydrates impact blood sugar, also told the conference that the benefits of vegetarianism had been ‘undersold.’
Dr Jenkins said humans would do better following a “simian” diet, similar to lowland gorillas who eat stems, leaves, vines and fruits rather than a “paleo” or caveman diet, which cuts carbohydrates but allows meat.
We homo sapiens apes have rather larger brains relative to body size than whatever the Latin for mountain gorillas is do. The usual – to the point that some insist we must have developed by the seaside and thus by eating shellfish – thought is that our consumption of animal products, specifically animal fats, is what powers this larger brain of ours. Or, if you insist, the addition of it to that paleolithic diet allowed the development of it.
No, this doesn’t mean we’ll all revert to being pinheads if we chow down on nothing but kale. Only that observation suggests that those who do have.