Pharmaceuticals and Vegetables: Negative Side Effects

"Each year, about 300,000 preventable adverse events occur in hospitals in this country, many as a result of confusing medical information."

There is still confusion.

Part of the problem is that we think that pharmaceuticals will actually cure us so we don't ask the hard questions or weigh the health trade-offs. But very few, perhaps a vanishingly small number of drugs are actually magic bullets. One of my members turned me on to this podcast with medical philosopher Jacob Stenenga who argues that the FDA approval process for pharmaceuticals exaggerates benefits, underestimates costs and approves too many drugs that are not sufficiently helpful relative to their side effects.

But at least the FDA requires negative side effects be published. 

So what about the nutritionists? It seems every day that some new survey study comes out showing how meat and other animal products are ruining our health and shortening out lives and that we all need to switch to a plant based diet to save ourselves and the planet.

But what about the negative side effects of a plant based diet? No one really talks about that. Like pharmaceuticals are supposed to be, it is a cultural given that veggies are good for you. But are they that good for you and are they risk free? Do the benefits outweigh the negatives? No one really talks about it, so no one really knows for sure. 

Plants want to kill you, bury you, then eat you.

Plants want to kill you, bury you, then eat you.

But, the fact of the matter is many plants have evolved sophisticated bio weapons systems to discourage consumption. Here is a half hour talk on that topic from the recent Carnivore Conference in Boulder by Professor George Diggs of Austin College.  Diggs teaches coursework (and written a textbook) on evolution and health and the current mismatch between the diet we evolved to eat and what we throw down our pie holes now. He is also a botanist and an expert on plant defense mechanisms.

One of things that plant based diet advocates don't seem to appreciate is that there are close to 60 toxins hiding in our vegetables, only about half have been thoroughly studied, but of those toxins many are carcinogenic. To rodents at least. Additionally, 99.9 percent of all the pesticides veggies eaters consume are the natural pesticides the plants produce as self defense. (Ames, Profet, & Gold, 1990) Stay with me: so even if you go organic, you are only shaving off .1 percent of your pesticide load. Is it worth the extra price, given that organic and conventional produce are nearly identical nutritionally?

Think you are getting nutrients from veggies? Mostly no: the nutrients in the veggies are intended for the veggies, locked into the indigestible cellulose structure and biochemically sealed off. No bio available iron or calcium for you, however it will contribute to causing or worsening kidney stones. (It's the cacium oxalate.) Sorry Popeye.

I wonder, how many thousands of adverse events from veggie consumption could be prevented with compulsory labeling of potential side effects? 


Ames, B. N., Profet, M., & Gold, L. S. (1990). Dietary pesticides (99.99% all natural). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences87(19), 7777–7781.

Randy Hauer