New-Year News and Reflections

Last Updated on March 11, 2021 by Afifah Hamilton
Read Time: 5 min

This month’s News Round-Up takes a moment to reflect on the big nutrition stories of 2018 as well as looking ahead to 2019.

We really do live ‘in interesting times’ as the ancient Chinese curse puts it.

Diet trends 2018

We seem to be living in an increasingly polarised world. Brexit vs remain; liberals vs conservatives; free-speech vs censorship, so likewise with diets…

Vegans vs Carnivores

If you have been following the newspapers you would be aware that 2018 was the year veganism went mainstream, with headlines in April declaring “Number of UK vegans soars to 3.5 million“.

2019 looks ready to follow suit, with Forbes asking: “Everything is ready to make 2019 The Year of the Vegan, Are you?“, in which they claim that interest in the diet is soring with “fully a quarter of 25- to 34-year-old Americans declaring to be vegans or vegetarians.”

Vegan idealism and extremism on the rise

By way of warning, in September, we published a post Veganism extremism and domestic terrorism making no apology for the seemingly click-baity title, we were dead serious. Also, in that article, we pointed out that vegan ideology shares many characteristics with religious cults behaviour. Were we being a bit over-the-top? Judge for yourself:

Vegan activists group Direct Action Everywhere protesting in Tesco

“ANTI-TERROR police are tackling the growing threat of VEGAN VIOLENCE in Britain as angry veggie-extremists target the nation’s farms and abattoirs. Reports of incidents at farms and meat-processing factories by animal activists are growing and becoming increasingly violent.” (Express, Dec 30)

2018: The carnivore diet becomes a thing

One of our most popular posts of 2018 was Jordan Peterson on Diet and Health (7500 views) in which Dr Peterson explains how his family reversed serious autoimmune diseases and depression with a meat-only diet. Following Dr Peterson’s revelations the ‘Carnivore diet’ as it has come to be known, has taken off across the world with thousands of online proponents.

In fact ‘Carnivore Diet’ was the fourth most searched for diet in 2018 according to Google (Refinery, Dec 12th)

Top Google Diet Searches 2018

  1. Keto Diet
  2. Dubrow diet (a twist on intermittent fasting)
  3. Noom diet (“Weight watchers for millenials”)
  4. Carnivore diet
  5. Mediterranean diet
  6. Optavia diet (Mail order weight-loss plan)
  7. Dr Gundry diet
  8. Fasting / intermittent fasting diet
  9. FODMAP diet
  10. Shepherd’s diet

This is an interesting list for several reasons. Firstly, once you remove the commercial weight-loss plans (3 & 6) the remainder are mostly high-fat, low-carb diets (1,4,5,10). Secondly, several are specifically avoiding plant-toxins: carnivore (4) avoids all plant foods; Dr Gundry diet (7) avoids plant lectins; whilst FODMAP (9) avoids fermentable carbohydrates (all of which are from plants).

Strange, given its prominence in the media, that neither “vegetarian diet” nor “vegan diet” appeared in the top ten search terms!

BMJs most-viewed paper of 2018

NHS ends 2018 in a critical condition

  • Student, 19, was left paralysed after doctors severed her spine during a routine biopsy (Mail, Dec 31st)
  • Study shows two commonly prescribed chemo drugs cause breast cancer to spread to the lungs (Mail, Dec 31st)
  • Almost half of hospitals RAISE their car parking fees despite promises of a crackdown (NorthernEcho, Dec 26th)
  • A two-year-old boy has been left infertile after surgeons “castrated” him by operating on the wrong testicle. (SkyNews, Dec 22nd)
  • A&E departments have suffered their worst November performance on record (PharmaTimes, Dec 13th)
  • More than half of doctors considering quitting NHS or cutting their hours (Telegraph, Dec 5th)

2018 victories

Two doctors who had been banned by their professional bodies from recommending low-carb diets to their patients were finally exonerated this year.

Tim Noakes, professor of sports science in a Cape Town University, South Africa, who we posted about back in March was finally found innocent of any wrongdoing in June after a lengthy 4 year battle:

Gary Fettke, an orthopaedic surgeon in Tasmania who was prevented by his professional body from advising diabetic patients, whose limbs he had to amputate, about diet and how they could save their other leg (!) and banned from using social media to share his ideas about low-carb diets.

Gary was cleared of all charges in September this year:

Just a few days ago our own NHS cardiologist, Dr Aseem Malhotra, has taken the World Health Organisation to task for their demonising of butter and promotion of vegetable oils (Mail, Dec 28th)

Another star of 2018 has been Dr Shawn Baker. Dr Baker introduces himself as “Just your average backflipping, basketball dunking, quarter ton deadlift repping, 80kg KB swinging, world record rowing 50 y/o carnivore MD!” Like Fettke and Noakes he too found that diet made a huge difference to his personal health and that of his patients. Like them, he too lost his licence. Like them, he was stitched up by a kangaroo court (watch his YT video explaining what happened)

Shawn’s tweet on new-year’s eve provides a segue into our final piece…

Yes, January is both World Carnivore Month AND Veganuary

January: Everybody is thinking of their new-year resolutions. On the vegan side, there is a big campaign to get people to give up animal-based foods for 1 month, hence ‘Veganuary’ the rather clumsy contraction of vegan and January. On the carnivore side the challenge is the opposite: can you go 31 days without eating any plant-based foods?

Is there any end to this polarisation? Yes! You can succeed at both if you undertake the little-publicised World Breatharian Month Challenge (I just made that up; the month bit, not the Breatharians — they’re real!) in which you live on air alone, thereby having neither animal nor plant-based foods pass your lips. It’s the only logical conclusion.

Thinking I was finishing on a flippant and mildly amusing note, I checked the December newspapers for anything on Breatharians, and, Dear God! there was indeed an article in the Sun (Dec 10th) You really couldn’t make it up, could you? We do indeed — as the ancient Chinese curse goes — live in interesting times.


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