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From: Mark Rifkin (
Subject:         Re: Sources of reliable vegan-oriented information
Date: March 11, 2009 at 10:43 pm PST

In Reply to: Sources of reliable vegan-oriented information posted by Sammy on January 10, 2009 at 9:45 pm:

Hi Sammy,

Sorry for the long delay in my reply. The only comprehensive assessment of the evidence I can think of is published by AICR (Am. Inst for Cancer Research), which advocates plant-based diets to prevent cancer. No one else I know of publishes a similar guide with a similar plant-based focus. Of course, there are also medical research databases online (primary one is Pubmed/Medline, from NIH), but these only report the research, not analyze it.

Other than that, one has to be able to "filter" the information presented by research, media, etc. By "filter", I mean compare it to accepted scientific knowledge, recognize improper statistical interpretations or manipulations, and weigh the value of the design of the study.

For example, I don't agree with the theory of Esselstyn (no oils! no nuts! no avocado! none!). Reasonable oil intake is, in my opinion, safe, healthy and useful. He cites a study where 60 ml of olive oil reduced arterial blood flow significantly. Therefore, according to his theory, all liquid oils, including olive oil, are unhealthy.

Only when we read the actual study do we see that 60 ml of olive oil = 3 tablespoons! Is this amount based in reality? Do people eat 3 Tbsp of olive oil at a single meal? I hope not, but that's what the study used, and Esselstyn cites it as proof that all oil intake is unhealthy.

Out of all the experts you mentioned, the only ones I agree nearly 100% are Melina, Davis, and Nestle. I differ with each of the others in various ways. I appreciate what they each have to offer, and I agree with each of them much more than I do "conventional" authorities, but I have my own nutritional philosophy. Essentially, one has to read and think a lot about nutrition.

Incidentally, the CNS requirements are actually similar or more intense than the RD requirements.
I encourage you to explore all options completely and remember the "alternative" certifications (CHHC, CNC, etc) are not recognized by any gov't agency, hospital or credentialing board.

Good Luck!

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