Just a moderate vegan sharing his “comments and criticisms” on the 30 BAD cult. Nothing too special about this post and these topics have probably been covered before- I’m just in the mood to rant. Here are my 10 main problems with Harley and Freelea’s health advice:
1. The complete denial that carbohydrates can make you fat. People like Taubes have written on this extensively. Too many refined carbs will spike your insulin and convert to palmitic acid, which is stored as fat. I fell into the trap of eating too much pasta a few months ago, and gained around 20 pounds. Harley would have you believe that the oil in the pasta sauce made me fat. Fat becomes this incredible boogeyman for the 811ers, and any dietary problems are the result of fat, irregardless of the type. All overweight people are automatically “under-carbed,” and “the fat you eat is the fat you wear” becomes Gospel truth, even though Mary Enig is a walking skeleton.
2. The fixation on high calorie diets and denial that calorie restriction has medical benefits. Harley dismisses people who eat under 3000 calories per day as “anorexic,” and there’s a video where Freelea explicitly instructs people to eat when they’re not hungry. They ignore cultures like the Okinawans and Hunza who eat low calorie diets, and ignore the scientifically proven benefits of calorie restriction and intermittent fasting. Furthermore, if the 811ers are eating such nutrient dense foods, why are they having to eat so much?
3. The idea of a “perfect” diet for all human beings. Harley and Freelea push a “one size fits all” diet, and refuse to acknowledge that people may thrive on other diets, or have unique needs. It’s not surprising that Harley lumps his opponents into a single bloc with statements like “Paleo Primal Low Carb SAD WAPF.” He knows these diets are fundamentally different, yet he lumps them together to make the “enemy” seem more monolithic. He’ll even use words like “redneck” to malign his opponents. By the way, how is 30 BAD exempt from being a fad diet again?
4. The fundamental misrepresentation of Colin Campbell, Esselstyn, McDougall, Ornish etc. All of the old-school plant-based doctors follow mostly vegan diets, and recognize the importance of cooked foods. The China Study surveyed people eating rice, vegetables, and occasional meat, not people eating obscene amounts of fruit. McDougall tells people to limit fruit consumption, Fuhrman condemns high GI fruits, and Esselstyn tells people to avoid blending as it destroys fiber.
5. The use of ad hominem attacks against their opponents. I don’t even mind when Harley calls out dopers or overweight “fitness” experts. I’m talking about when he flat out makes stuff up. He says Anthony Colpo takes steroids with no evidence. He says Loren Cordain has the testosterone of an 80 year old woman with no evidence. He says Rob Wolf’s “fatty acid levels are falling apart” with no evidence. His primary focus is always to assassinate people’s characters rather than address their arguments.
6. Fake stories about friends, neighbors, room mates, and family members. Harley’s mom is “low level obese” on a Mediterranean diet. Harley has a 400 pound Paleo neighbor. Harley had a flat mate who died of orthorexia. Harley had a friend who was B12 deficient on the WAPF diet. It’s all too convenient.
7. The whitewashing of B12. Statements like “meat eaters actually have higher rates of B12 deficiency” and “B12 deficiency is the result of a genetic condition” are simply not true. Harley and Freelea don’t want to reveal this one flaw in the vegan diet, so they whitewash it. I worry that they discourage vegans from supplementing because of their ambivalence.
8. The demonization of superfoods. Yes, people shouldn’t be chasing around expensive “potions, powders, and elixirs.” But Harley goes over the top in bashing superfoods and portrays anyone who sells anything exotic as a David Wolfe style huckster. Basically, everyone needs to eat this vulgar, bland diet of bananas or rice.
9. Leanne’s 9/11 comment. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. It’s not only crass and tasteless, but downright idiotic if you think about it. Are we to believe that a bunch of vegans got stuck behind obese meat eaters in the Twin Towers?
10. The overall austerity and impracticality of the 30 BAD lifestyle. I’ve tried the raw vegan route and it’s just so spartan. You box yourself into a smaller and smaller corner until you’re eating practically nothing. You always have lingering health issues which you blame on “detoxing” or “not eating 80/10/10.” Yet, you’re craving those dastardly “toxic” foods and binging every 1-2 weeks. After a year as a raw vegan, I realized that there’s nothing wrong with eating cooked starches or animal products once and a while. There is on the other hand, a whole lot wrong with always eating raw vegetables, nuts, and seeds instead of their cooked counterparts. The other aspect of the impracticality factor is that Harley exercises around 75 minutes per day, so he can burn off the extra 1,000 or so calories he’s taking in. Harley doesn’t take into account people who are sedentary, or people with busy schedules who wouldn’t have the time to eat 30 bananas a day, let alone shit them back out.