Food Good, Fear Bad

Published January 10, 2007

Dear Editor,

The article in your January 4 edition by Mary Schoonmaker regarding the removal of meat from the American diet criticized my review of Eric Schlosser’s book Chew On This. I hope you will allow me to offer some balance to your readers. His book was indeed a hatchet job on American agriculture in general and meat production in particular. It defamed the finest food supply in the world by distorting a few examples of poor agricultural practices.

But far worse is the poor advice Mrs. Schoonmaker offers her readers. It is very difficult to maximize one’s health without a reasonable intake of animal protein. The food combinations required to obtain the 20 essential amino acids found in meat are extremely difficult for most people. No one today recommends eating red meat every day of the week, as she implies. Rather, health is always maximized through moderation.

Everyone has the right to choose a vegan diet, but attempting to scare people into one is surely beneath your fine paper.

On a personal note, I am 70 years old and continue to compete in Ironman Triathlons. I have never required a prescription drug and have eaten red meat on the average of twice a week for my entire life. I monitor my fat intake and resulting cholesterol and look forward to my next New York strip steak.

Jay Lehr, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is science director of The Heartland Institute and editor of several leading scientific reference books.