Last June, I was looking for an audiobook that would give me some ideas for promoting June Dairy Month and happened to find The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. My life changed. My view on what I put in my body changed. I was appalled by what's happened in America over the last 70 years and how the health of Americans is crashing in a downward spin.

Orth derek
Dairy Producer / Orthridge Jerseys

The history

In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower suffered a heart attack, and a war was raged on heart disease. Eisenhower's doctors pinpointed the fat in his diet as the culprit of his heart attack and ignored the fact that he smoked and the stress of being president in the post-World War II era. One of the doctors who began the low-fat craze was Dr. Ancel Keys, an epidemiologist from the University of Minnesota. After years of research, Keys published his famous "7 Country Study," which "proved" his hypothesis and is the backbone of everything we've been taught about nutrition ever since. The problem with his study is that he studied 22 countries and left out 15 countries that showed no correlation or contradicted his low-fat-diet hypothesis. When the study was reviewed in 1999, researchers found a closer correlation between sugar in the diet than fat consumption. Vegetable oils and plant-based diets skyrocketed along with our waistlines and the six diseases that make up what is often known as "metabolic syndrome." We all know what we feed our livestock to put extra weight on; why are those same grains so highly recommended for humans to eat?

The vegan and vegetarian community often promote their agenda by saying humans only recently began eating meat. Nothing could be further from the truth. Humans survived as hunters and gatherers for a majority of our existence. Cultivation, or what many consider the beginning of agriculture, didn't begin until about 10,000 years ago. Until then, our diet was largely animal-based, with maybe some berries or tubers. The only dessert in the human diet was the rare occasion when a tribe was lucky enough to find a honey tree. When sharing data about eating more meat today than ever before, anti-meaters are often citing "food disappearance surveys" that began in the early 1900s. These surveys only showed food that crossed state lines. Most foods crossing state lines were regional fruits and vegetables and almost never meat, eggs or dairy products, which were produced very locally. Another nuance of the food disappearance surveys is the fact that from 1880 to 1910, the U.S. population doubled, and the beef industry couldn't keep up. People began eating more chicken and grain-based products because of the lack of beef, further skewing what the anti-meat crowd considers the diet of our ancestors. Between 1970 and 2014, beef consumption dropped 35%, and whole milk consumption went down 79%. Clearly, avoiding these goodies isn't improving our nation's health.

Information we should be sharing

Since the beginning of time, human brain size has increased. Well, until about 28,000 years ago. Could the invention of cultivation and increase in plant-based foods be the cause of the slow decrease in human brain size? Our brains are 60% fat, thrive on fat and require fat for proper development. After some of the audiobooks I've listened to, I've began wondering about my childhood. A good friend of mine and I graduated second and third in our class. Were we really smarter than our classmates, or were our brains just more developed because we grew up on a farm with a freezer full of meat and butter on the table at every meal?

I've also been thinking and trying to learn more about how diet affects mental health. There are vitamins and minerals in meat that aren't available in vegetarian diets but are key in mental health. Vitamin B12, heme iron, zinc and cholesterol are all found in meat and can help with anxiety and depression. Yes, cholesterol. Every cell in the body requires cholesterol to function. Studies show that low cholesterol can increase violence, depression and suicide. The Big Fat Surprise references a lot of studies showing flaws in studies promoting a low-fat diet. Some studies recommended reducing saturated fats and adding vegetable oils to reduce cholesterol and lower heart disease, and that's what was promoted. What they didn't tell us is that death from other diseases increased, and, in some cases, all-cause mortality was higher in the group eating the low-fat/ higher-vegetable-oil diet.


I occasionally have days when I am an absolute bear, and I could never figure out why. Then it hit me that my worst mood days were usually after a family get together or a potluck when I thought I had to try just one of every dessert. Instead of finding comfort in carb-filled treats, maybe the perfect comfort food is a pot roast or a steak topped with butter.

Many of our foods are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Breakfast cereals are one example. Because many vitamins and minerals are fat soluble, if you are eating your cereal with skim or low-fat milk, you aren't able to absorb these nutrients anyway. More and more people are worried about the lactose in milk; the lower the fat content, the higher the amount of lactose. There is more monounsaturated fat in beef than any other type of fat. That's the same fat that olive oil is praised for.

Even in the Bible we read: "Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" (Genesis 1:26 KJV).There are plenty of doctors and dieticians recommending a low-carb, high-fat diet, with lots of books and audiobooks that break down the flawed research and prove that meat, eggs and dairy products belong in every diet. In their new book, Sacred Cow, Diana Rogers and Robb Wolf discuss the nutritional, environmental and ethical reasons why animal-based diets are the key to healthy living.

Be careful though: When you start telling your friends what you've learned, they will send you pictures of the cake and scones they just baked and tell you to "Stop drinking the Kool-Aid!"