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  Blog by Harry Mossman

Vegan to Primal

egg yolks

For years you were vegan. You ate fruit, vegetables, grains and beans, and things produced from them like tofu. Or you were a vegetarian who ate a few eggs and a little dairy.

For whatever reason, you decided to start eating meat. Perhaps your health was going down hill no matter how hard you tried to take care of it. Or perhaps you read The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith and woke up. Whatever the reason, you read about Primal and decided to give it a try. Good. It is virtually impossible to have long-term health as a vegan. Even vegetarianism is a challenge. Humans evolved to have some meat in their diet. It can be a lot or a little.

Perhaps a platter of bacon completely converted you to Primal, including eating organ meats and drinking bone broth. Great! But this post is aimed at converters who hedge their bets.

You gave up wheat and beans. You started eating eggs but the conventional message about cholesterol nags in your brain. So you scramble three egg whites with one yoke. You eat only the leanest beef and only skinless chicken breast. If you use dairy, you choose non-fat or at least low-fat versions. You use organic commercial broth, which is always fat free.

But you begin to realize that your body is hungry for meat. So you put lots of roasted skinless chicken breast on your big assed salad for lunch. For dinner, if you are not having chicken breast, you have an ultra-lean steak. You fry it in your non-stick skillet using maybe a few drops of olive oil. Or you make something with 99% fat-free ground turkey. On Sunday, you have two slices of microwaved bacon for breakfast and vigorously pat them with paper towels to get out all the fat.

At first, you feel great! You have lots of energy. Then your health starts to slide again. You stop losing fat. You no longer have all that new energy. What's up!

Methionine, Choline, Betaine and Folate

Your body didn't evolve to eat only lean meat and egg whites. If you are going to eat meat and eggs, you gotta eat the whole animal or make up for not doing so.

Muscle meats and eggs are very rich in methionine, which increases our need for homocysteine-neutralizing nutrients (vitamins B6, B12, folate, betaine, and choline), and also increases our need for the amino acid glycine, found most abundantly in skin and bones. Chris Masterjohn, Anyone Doing Paleo Without Liver, Bones, Skin, and Greens? in The Daily Lipid.
liver and onions

What are the best sources of folate?  Liver, beans, nuts, peanuts, seeds, corn, asparagus and greens.

Liver disgusts you, and when you started Primal, you stopped eating beans, seeds and nuts, which you love.  That daily big assed salad helped but perhaps you got tired of it and don't eat so much any more. (Maybe, like me, you generate kidney stones and were told to avoid greens. But I was told by a nephrologist that I could eat oxalates if I took calcium or ate calcium-rich foods at the same time.) Folate is added to processed foods now but you avoid those, circling around the outside of the grocery store.

What are the best sources of betaine?  Our bodies can make betaine from the choline in egg yolks and liver. However the best source is spinach. Beets are also high, but you don't eat beets because of the sugar or because you hate them. Americans typically get their betaine from grains, which you also reluctantly gave up.

I currently believe that dietary fat, whether saturated or unsaturated, and anything that the liver likes to turn into fat, like fructose and ethanol, will promote the accumulation of fat as long as we don't get enough choline. Once that fat accumulates, the critical factor igniting an inflammatory fire to this fat is the consumption of too much PUFA (polyunsaturated fat from vegetable and perhaps fish oils). Chris Masterjohn, The Sweet Truth About Liver and Egg Yolks -- Choline Matters More to Fatty Liver Than Sugar, Alcohol, or Fat, The Daily Lipid

What are the best sources of choline? Liver and egg yolks. So, again, if you don't eat these, you have to make up for it.

Homocysteine

. . . homocysteine is thought to do all sorts of bad things, like stiffen arteries and increase the proliferation of smooth muscle cells leading to high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke.  Homocysteine is also thought to be associated with joint and cartilage stiffness, weak bones, and is probably directly neurotoxic. . . .  [It] has also been associated with anger . . . . Emily Deans, Anger and HomocysteineEvolutionary Psychiatry

So not getting enough homocysteine-neutralizing nutrients, namely vitamins B6, B12, folate, betaine and choline means trouble.

Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

They are good for you.

Practical Solutions