Transcript of the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 147
Jaebien Rosario on pseudoscience, critical thinking, and evidence-based veganism
Karina Inkster: You're listening to the No Bullshit Vegan Podcast, episode 147. Jaebien Rosario joins me to talk about some of my favourite topics. Why is evidence-based veganism important? Why does pseudoscience hurt the vegan movement? And what is pseudoscience anyway? And much more in the world of critical thinking and bullshit-busting.
Hey, welcome to the show. I'm Karina, your go-to, no-BS, vegan fitness and nutrition coach. So guess what? This month marks five years of running this podcast. I cannot even believe it. I started from a small apartment in Vancouver and soon after moved to Powell River. Now, my husband and I bought our home, sight unseen, so we actually had no idea until we moved in that this house has a small sound-treated recording room, which is where I've been recording this show for most of its lifespan. We're now 147 episodes in, and actually, today marks a total of 198 episodes, if you include the Advent calendar mini-episodes I've made over the years. And I'm so grateful to have
connected with so many incredible professionals across many different disciplines. I've learned a ton speaking with these folks, and the show is syndicated on my local radio station.
It’s, of course, a lot of work running a podcast, including finding guests and writing scripts, and publishing show notes, full transcripts, and social media posts. I definitely can't do this alone. So I would love to give a shout-out to our editor Fina, who works her magic on every episode. Also, a big thank you to our communications head honcho, Izzy, for connecting with guests and getting them ready for their interviews. And to Coach Zoe, who, as you probably know, works with our fitness and nutrition clients, but is also responsible for publishing our episodes every two weeks across multiple different platforms. And thank you to Coach Kaylin, who also works with our clients and also works on our episode transcripts.
So to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the No Bullshit Vegan podcast and to say thank you for supporting this show, whether you're a new listener or you've been tuning in since its inception, I put together a brand new ebook that you can download for free. It's the first volume in a series and it covers strength training and how to fuel it with plants. It includes edited versions of my podcast conversations with incredible guests, like vegan bodybuilding legend Robert Cheek, as well as advice from yours truly on topics like protein and five nutrition mistakes to avoid. Download your free copy of The No Bullshit Vegan ebook at nobullshitvegan.com/ebook. That's nobullshitvegan.com/ebook.
Introducing my guest today, Jaebien Rosario. He's a certified nutrition coach and personal trainer with a background in psychology, public health, and philosophy. Currently, he studies public health at a graduate level and is interested in plant-based nutrition, critical thinking, and longevity. His favourite vegan meal is scrambled tofu. Here's our conversation.
Hey, Jaebien, thank you so much for coming on the show and joining me today.
Jaebien Rosario: Thank you for having me on.
Karina Inkster: I'm excited to get to know about your work, and I have to give a hat tip to our mutual friend Mike Howard for connecting us. So he was on the podcast too by the way, way back when in the early days. So thanks to Mike for connecting us and nice to meet you. Looking forward to our conversation.
Jaebien Rosario: Yeah, I'm really excited. Can't wait to see what we come up with.
Karina Inkster: Yeah, we have no agenda, by the way. So usually I have a couple of notes and I've checked out your work, of course, but I have no talking points. We'll just kind of see what comes up, which I'm excited about.
Jaebien Rosario: Yeah, I'm really excited for that too. I've done a few interviews like that.
Karina Inkster: That's awesome. Very cool. Well, let's hit up veganism first because this is a vegan podcast, and for folks who are vegan themselves, I like to ask them what their backstory is around veganism, what their connection is to veganism. So can you give us a little backstory of how Jay came to veganism?
Jaebien Rosario: So actually it happened around December. I was doing a podcast interview with two, who I would call evidence-based vegans, so Dr. Matthew Nagara, who's on Instagram, and Matthew Madera who is on Twitter.
Karina Inkster: Nice.
Jaebien Rosario: And Matthew, he's a graduate student for nutrition. Matthew Nagara, he's a naturopathic doctor who is evidence-based. He's not like other naturopathic doctors who-
Karina Inkster: I know. It's crazy. He's actually... I'm interviewing him, I think it's next week or the week after, and he's probably the only naturopath who's ever going to be on the show. I can tell you that right now. Anyways, sorry to interject.
Jaebien Rosario: Yeah, no, it's totally fine. He's totally legit. And I had this interview with him and we talked about... I had an honest, open conversation about veganism with him, and we talked about sentience. We talked about some of the arguments for veganism, and I said, you know what? Let me start checking this out. So I started going on YouTube, watching Earthling Ed, watching Joey Carbstrong. What really got me into it was kind of Earthling Ed. I looked at all the arguments for and against veganism, and I realized that me as a person living in Western society who regularly eats meat, I'm not necessarily justified in consuming animal products and continuing the suffering of animals on a grand scale.
And then I have two dogs. And then I kind of went through this thought experiment where how is it okay that I have two pets and I could kill and eat a pig who has comparable intelligence to my dogs? And then from there, it's kind of like I had no choice in my mind but to adopt a vegan lifestyle and say that I don't want to participate in animal exploitation or suffering anymore. That type of stuff is wrong. So that happened to me really, really recently. So I'm kind of just a few months into this lifestyle.
Karina Inkster: Yeah, I was just going to say, December, huh? That's not that long ago.
Jaebien Rosario: Yeah, it was a really drastic change, and announcing it on social media was a big turning point for me. It kind of made it more real and more official, but it was something I was contemplating for a little while. Back in the day, I used to always clown vegans and say, oh, well it's natural to eat meat or it's part of the food chain or this isn’t ethics class. This is health sciences. And I realized that was a kind of faulty way of thinking. I wasn't actually engaging with the argument of veganism. I was sort of just playing checkers in my head to get away from it, maneuver out of it. You guys aren’t playing chess. You guys are actually trying to answer the big stuff as far as the vegan community's concerned.
Karina Inkster: Interesting. Well, this is kind of cool because your transition to veganism kind of goes along with the whole idea of new scientific evidence being presented and thoughts changing over time, and this is how the scientific method works. You're presented with evidence. You act on it. You maybe change things about your own life when things are presented. So it's kind of a cool parallel to how science works, which is what you're all about with your work, right?
Jaebien Rosario: Yeah, exactly. I really put science on a pedestal, and I want people to think in terms of the scientific process and scientific thinking and realize that it's okay to change your mind. It's okay to fit your beliefs with the evidence. And it's also okay to think outside the box sometimes because you know, it’s not for nothing. Science is very good at descriptions. It's very good at describing the world, predicting certain things, but it's not good at telling us necessarily what to do with that information. So sometimes we need to think beyond just a description and think about prescriptive. Think about ethics. Think about how we ought to live. What we ought to do and the information that coincides with that. So I'm all about science, all about scientific thinking, but also thinking a little bit about the limitations of science as well. I think that's an important part of it.
Karina Inkster: Interesting. So is this kind of the sort of material you go into in your book? “Immune to Bullshit,” by the way, is the best title I've ever heard of in my life. Critical thinking and scientific literacy, which we need so much more of in the world, so I'm so glad this is out there. Everyone should get it. “Immune to Bullshit” - can you tell me a little bit about this? Is this kind of the line of thinking that you're presenting there?
Jaebien Rosario: So my line of thinking obviously has changed over the years because I formally studied philosophy. I studied philosophy and psychology. That's my background. Initially when I wrote the book, my mentor, who was a philosopher of mine, wanted to write about critical thinking and intellectual integrity. And I said, you know what? I'm going to take some of those ideas and put them into my own little book. And so I took concepts from the logic, the cognitive sciences, the sort of research methodology, and I just kind of put it together in a sweet little package to talk about how to start thinking about science. How to start thinking about our own thinking and how to start thinking about how researching science and evidence work in the world.
So that's kind of like how the book started. Obviously, I want to change the book up because my learning and growth has changed and I want to release an extended edition. I've talked about that for a while, but I really want to release an extended edition where I talk a little about these topics I'm talking about right now. But yeah, the book is really a consolidation of just a lot of my ideas, a lot of my thoughts over the years.
Karina Inkster: That's really cool. I cannot wait to dig in by the way. Congrats on writing that, by the way. It's no small feat.
Jaebien Rosario: Thank you. Thank you. A lot of my professors were like, you wrote a book? When I first told them, and they actually bought copies and they've given it to some of their students. So I really appreciate the love and support I've gotten for this book. It's really a love project. It's one of the best things I've ever done.
Karina Inkster: That's amazing. And I love what you said about releasing an extended edition. My first book came out in 2014 and I cringe, I tell you, I cringe at some of the stuff that's in there... It does have an updated edition at this point, but I just kind of wish that the first one just didn't exist anymore. But that's kind of how it works. It's part of the process. You come out with updates. You kind of forget about the stuff from way back when, nine years ago. It's all good. It's all part of the process.
Jaebien Rosario Exactly. Now I'm more philosophically inclined because I think with science, I think there are four main parts of science that people need to understand beyond just science itself. There's the history of science, there's the sociology of science, there's a psychology of science, and then there is the philosophy of science.
So when a person wants to understand science in of itself, you need to understand all of these four components in my opinion, because you need to understand how we got to where we got to, which is the history of it, who's doing the science, which is the sociology of it, how are we thinking about science and how are the people that are doing science thinking about science itself as well? That's the psychology of science. And then also the more broader question of what science is and what it's supposed to do and how it's supposed to act, which is the philosophy of science. I think many people sort of neglect those four components or they probably overemphasize one component over the other components, when I think all four of them are equally just as important.
Karina Inkster: Well, that's an interesting point. Let's talk about those areas a little bit more. So what do you think, which of those four tends to be the one that people are either lacking in or just not considering?
Jaebien Rosario: So the one area that I think people really don't consider as much is the philosophy of science because we consider science to be, even philosophers themselves, they consider science to be up on a pedestal. We look at science. We look at what it's accomplished. We look at what it's done. We're like, wow, how does this thing work? And what philosophers do is they ask the really broad questions. So we're asking what science is. How does it work? How do we know that it works? And what is the point of doing it in the first place?
So with those fundamental questions, I don't think even scientists themselves ask those questions because I have a lot of scientist friends. I'm sure you do as well. I ask them, saying what’s the point of what you're doing? They'll probably answer, I'm looking into... And they'll say this specific topic. I have one friend in cancer biology. He's looking into cancer biology. He's not thinking about, well, I'm trying to create a body of knowledge that does X or does Y or predicts this or predicts that. He's not necessarily thinking that meta about it. So I think it's really important now in society where a lot of people lack scientific literacy to understand, well, what is this thing that we call science? What is it aimed to do? How is it doing it and why is it so important? Because these are questions that are being attacked currently in our everyday society.
Karina Inkster: Hey, that's a great point. Putting it that way, being attacked, in all sorts of ways, which could be a whole other podcast episode, mind you. But that's interesting that you kind of see scientists themselves not really asking these questions. And if I think about folks that I know in that area, it's kind of the same. They're very focused on the work that they're doing, and of course, it's adding to the overall literature and knowledge base that we have in a world about a certain topic. But they're maybe not asking about science itself, which is an interesting point. I never really considered that before.
Jaebien Rosario: This is the point of philosophy. A lot of people don't see the point of philosophy when scientists themselves are like, philosophy is idiotic. It's this. It's that. But the ironic part is when you argue against philosophy, you're making a philosophical argument in the first place.
Karina Inkster: Oh, nice.
Jaebien Rosario: That's what I always tell people when you argue against philosophy, you're using philosophy to argue against philosophy. So good luck with that.
Karina Inkster: Nice. Hey, so I'm interested in how veganism factors into your thoughts about science. So this is a relatively new thing for you personally, but what I like about the content that you put out into the world - by the way, everyone should follow on Instagram ScienceByJae, J-A-E - your content is exactly what the vegan movement needs, honestly, because as I'm sure you know, in the vegan world, there is a shit ton of pseudoscience, which is part of why this podcast exists by the way. There's just so much indoctrination within veganism. There's pseudoscience. There are people spouting all sorts of crazy reasons for going vegan.
And so your content is saying, you know what? We have to come at this from an evidence-based perspective because if we're not - I mean I'm not wanting to assume this is your thinking pattern - but my thinking pattern is, if we're not coming at this from an evidence-based perspective, people will find the holes in it and they will probably shy away from veganism. The people who know how science works. So documentaries like “What the Health,” who are saying, oh, eggs are as bad for you as smoking and shit like that. People see through that. That is not scientific. That is inaccurate information. So what you're doing, I'd like to talk about how veganism factors into the content you're putting out into the world and science in general.
Jaebien Rosario: I think a lot of people in the vegan community automatically could spot bullshit when it comes to other areas within health, like the carnivore space, the low-carb space, and the keto space, but really adapt to being an omni-diet. That's kind of shitty and that kind of doesn't make sense. But when we reflect upon our own claims and the broader community, I think there's a lot of cognitive dissonances where we're not looking at certain claims that people are making and saying, maybe this isn't accurate. Because obviously, we have a bias. We want to end animal exploitation and suffering. A lot of us. A lot of us want to have animals to have rights so they have the right to live. But sometimes people have this idea that the ends justify the means. So a lot of people argue and use pseudo-scientific... Yeah, a lot of people use pseudo-scientific arguments.
A lot of people use a lot of volition appeals. A lot of people outright lie about things to meet that end. And it's not helpful because in my thinking when you lie, when you're deceitful, when you're giving misinformation, you're ultimately harming the movement. People don't want to take you as seriously. Because if I figure out that you're lying to me, why would I want to listen to you again? It doesn't make any sense. So that's why I want to come at veganism from an evidence-based standpoint. We don't have to lie about nutrition or animal-based products. Me stating factually that you can include animal-based products in a health-promoting diet, shouldn't mean that - it’s not the same thing, and it shouldn't mean that we are ethically or horribly obligated to eat those animals. It's not the same thing. And it's not justifying the ethical implications of consuming animal-based products. Those are totally two different things and I feel like the more that we can separate those things and have an honest conversation, the more seriously this movement will be taken.
Karina Inkster: So well put. Let me just go back to that point because I think it's a super important one. So you're saying, the fact that animal products might be part of a healthy diet as per peer-reviewed research, doesn't necessarily equate to us being morally obligated to eat animal products and it doesn't necessarily equate to eating animal products being okay.
Jaebien Rosario: Exactly.
Karina Inkster: Kind of reminds me of a point you have here on your page, which I'm going to guess probably got some pushback from the vegans, but let me just read it out for our listeners. This is your post from four days ago. Reasons to not be against eggs. So you're basically saying these are not good reasons for avoiding consuming eggs Eggs are as bad as cigarettes. Eating eggs is unnatural or the cholesterol in eggs, which is still debatable. So these are not good reasons to avoid eggs. Reasons to be against consuming eggs: Male chicks are brutally killed. Hens are often crammed together in small cages, which of course is highly stressful. Numerous health complications hens deal with producing so many eggs. Now if you show this to a general vegan population, I'm going to guess that as soon as you say something like, well, “eating eggs is unnatural,” is not a valid argument, you're going to get a lot of pushback. Is that something that you experienced with content like this?
Jaebien Rosario: So typically the people that follow me know how to use evidence, reason, and logic in the vegan space to think through these issues and trying to get at what I'm trying to say. Obviously, a lot of the pushback in the comments is from mediators who want to justify them consuming eggs and consuming meats at all costs. But I don't think the pushback is necessarily from vegans. The pushback that I'm getting is a lot from meat eaters and a lot of people that follow me who still consume meat and animal-based products who want to keep justifying it. The main thing in my message that a lot of people don't like, I would see a lot in the vegan community that they probably don't like, is that I'm advocating that veganism is an ideal that people should adhere to. However, I'm adamant in the idea that the best way to get people to get to the ideal is for them to consume more plants and consume less animals, and over time get to that ideal.
A lot of people might not agree with that. I'm understanding that a lot of people might not agree with that because some people are like, absolutely we need to cut animal products cold turkey. And I understand where that argument comes from, but I think realistically, when we work with people, when we work with different populations of people, that is difficult. Very difficult for a number of reasons. And I'm not saying that veganism is difficult in of itself to adopt because I've done it. It's not anything I think really crazy. But it did take me some time to really get into how to do it and how to do it appropriately. But that's just my approach. And like I said, a lot of people might not like it. A lot of people might disagree with it, but this is the approach that I'm taking.
Karina Inkster: I agree with you. This is coming from a 20-year ethical vegan. I went vegan entirely for ethical reasons. Not health. Not athletic. All that stuff came way later. Environmental reasons, et cetera. And I'm with you because I think when it comes down to it, our mutual goal as vegans is to have more vegans in the world and to have them stay vegan for as long as possible. And generally, especially working with clients who are making the transition to veganism or who just became vegan and they're not really sure what to do. We've seen it firsthand. Generally, I mean, there's always exceptions to everything, but in general, folks who do a more gradual approach are way more likely to stick with it long term. It just becomes normal. It didn't seem like an overnight 180 of their dietary patterns. And that's the whole goal for us, isn't it? As ethical vegans, we want more vegans in the world and we want them to stay vegan. So if that's how it operates, which in most cases, it does, I'm on board.
Jaebien Rosario: I mean, this is the conundrum that I give to people who push back against this argument. If most people in Western societies are dealing with being overweight or obese, most likely they can't adhere to a health-promoting diet for whatever reason. What makes you think that a person who can't adhere to a health-promoting diet in general, with animal products included, is going to be able to adhere to a vegan diet, a health-promoting vegan diet? It makes things a little bit more complicated. I'm not saying that's impossible, so people don’t strawman me, but if a person can't adhere to a diet, even with animal products in it that's health-promoting, why would you think that they're able to just adhere to a vegan diet that's health-promoting in of itself? It's going to take time. It's going to take behavioural modification. It's going to take habit changes. It's going to take time. It's not going to happen overnight for most people. That's just not how it works.
Karina Inkster: So true. I think the operative term here is health promoting because you could technically be a vegan who eats KFC vegan chicken burgers, whatever they have there, and drive-thru Wendy's fries on a daily basis. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with those foods. I'm just saying, if you subsist only on those foods, that's not necessarily health-promoting. So I think the health-promoting piece in what you just said is the operative term.
Jaebien Rosario: Right, right. Because, I mean, I could eat Oreos all day and like you said, fries, and whatever. Some vegan ice cream and some vegan snacks and desserts and I could still technically be vegan, but my diet is not health-promoting. So if you want people to have longevity, if we want people to be in the healthiest state possible, we have to approach it from a different angle than just say, well go vegan. There's many permutations of a vegan diet. Just like there's many permutations of any other dietary approach. So how a person accomplishes a particular approach and in the best way possible for their health is going to take time and dedication because most people are not eating that way. I would highly argue that most people are not eating that way, especially in the United States.
Karina Inkster: Absolutely. Here's a question for you. How did veganism become so attached to health? Because it's really an ethical lifestyle. It's not a so-called diet. It's a philosophical standpoint, isn't it? How did it get so wrapped up in health?
Jaebien Rosario: So I take this a lot from sort of the anti-diet space because I think there's things that we can learn from every camp. I would like to say every way of thinking about health and nutrition, I would say that it's our culture. It's the cultural conception of dieting. It's the fitness industry as well. The wellness industry. We have been sold on this idea that in order to be healthy, we need to lose the most weight possible, so we need to follow these restrictive fad diets. And unfortunately, veganism gets lumped into it because it is an exclusionary dietary approach that can in certain cases be very restrictive depending on how you define it. So if you're selling people on a very restrictive approach to lose the most weight possible, veganism can be lumped into that. It's just an unfortunate byproduct of diet culture in my opinion. So obviously veganism isn't a diet. I keep arguing that from day one, but it's very, very hard when the fitness and wellness industry sells you on that.
Karina Inkster: That's such a good point. Building on that, I think for folks who are already vegan, one of the ways that we as a movement try to hook people is from the health perspective, which probably stems as you said, from the fitness industry and the diet industry, diet culture in general. But these days, you see a lot of folks going vegan just for health reasons. And you see a lot of large-scale organizations, including PETA, touting veganism as the answer to all your health problems before ethics.
Jaebien Rosario: I think that's a terrible approach because I'm not saying that veganism cannot be health-promoting. We know that a plant-based diet overall - plant-based and the definition of plant predominant diet overall - can be extremely health-promoting, veganism included in there. But like anything else, it's not going to solve all your health issues. It's not in the panacea for everything. It can only do so much. And like we said, there's many permutations of a vegan diet. So coming at it from that angle I think it’s distorted it. It's not helpful. I think it adds to people's anxiety of food. I think it lies to people. It could create disordered eating habits. I think that there's a lot of detrimental implications with lying or overselling this idea of health from a vegan standpoint. I think we need to teach people what it really is about. At the end of the day, it's about the animals.
It's not about us. It's not about, well, I'm trendy because I just had a vegan kale smoothie. No, it's not about that. It's not about that. It's about the animals. How do we help the animals best? How do we look at it from that? Because if you look at veganism more broadly, it's not just about diet. It's also about not wearing leather. It's also about animal research, the fact that animals are used in laboratories. We want to stop practices like that. We want to stop whaling and things like that, for products. We want to stop poachers. We want to stop different forms of animal exploitation and not just changing our dietary power.
Karina Inkster: Absolutely. I think that gets into definitions and why people use the term plant-based when they're just talking about food because it seems more accessible and it's not overwhelming as a lifestyle for people who aren't familiar with it. But I'm with you. A hundred percent. I find that folks who come to veganism for ethical reasons first generally stay vegan longterm, whereas folks who come to it for other reasons, not that they're necessarily any less valid, although maybe the argument could be made that they are. Athletic performance. The environment is a huge one. Climate change, for example, pollution, biodiversity or loss thereof. Folks who come to veganism for those type of reasons, which are valid, I find don't tend to stay vegan super long term or at least they don't as often as people who have the ethical piece around animals as their main motivation.
Jaebien Rosario: And I mean that's supported by... I mean there was a survey, obviously, not peer-reviewed, but those who went back to eating animal-based products most likely went to veganism in the first place for health-based reasons compared to those who stuck with it, who were more likely to see the ethical piece of it where they're more likely to see it as a sociopolitical struggle, so they're more likely to stay with veganism. I forgot exactly where that survey came from. I know I saw it a while ago, and it's not peer-reviewed, so take it with a grain of salt, but it kind of adds to what we're saying that from what we notice is that more people that come at it from an ethical standpoint are more likely to stick with it than not.
Karina Inkster: A hundred percent. Yep. Do you speak with a lot of folks who are interested in going vegan who are following your content? They see that this is something that you've done relatively recently. Are you communicating with folks who are kind of like veg-curious?
Jaebien Rosario: Yeah, so there's a few individuals who came to me and said, I see that you're starting this approach. I'm very interested. Can you give me some tips and tricks on what you're doing? And I've given people some advice. I've given people some advice for different types of protein that they could use. I've given people some advice for books that I've picked up on vegan recipes, so things of that nature. But I think a lot of what I'm getting back is mostly pushback from the evidence-based fitness space because I was really big in the evidence-based fitness space. But there's a huge meat bias in that space, unfortunately. There's a lot of, I would say, misconceptions, especially around the idea of protein and plant-based protein still, and this is being said by people with PhDs in nutrition. They're still saying these mischaracterizations. So I mean, it's an uphill battle right now.
Karina Inkster: Yeah, fair enough. Hey, you have what I consider one of the best definitions of pseudoscience that I've ever seen. Let me just read it out here for the folks. So, “science changes with new evidence, undergoes peer review, invites criticism from qualified people, has repeated and predicted results, and never claims absolute certainty. Whereas pseudoscience is fixed, view criticism as an attack, disregards or ignores new data, cherry-picks data when needed, has results that can't be repeated nor are predictive and often claims a high amount of certainty.” This is such a good definition and difference between science and pseudoscience. Absolutely brilliant. And do you kind of feel like this education piece is important in the fitness and the diet industries? Showing people what science even is and why pseudoscience is not the answer?
Jaebien Rosario: Yes, it's extremely important to define these terms and separate what we consider science from pseudoscience. Now in philosophy, I'm not going to get too much into it, this is called the problem of demarcation of science. So separating science from non-science from pseudoscience. Now what I offered up is sort of characteristics of science that we see often in many different domains and many characteristics of pseudoscience that we see in many different domains online. Now, the insidious part about pseudoscience is that it tries to act like science. It tries to portray itself as if it is scientific, to get people to fall into it and think that it's the right answer or it's accurate.
The problem is that it often relies on faulty reasoning, felicitous reasoning, and those characteristics that are outlined of it, trying to claim absolute certainty. Now, the issue with people adopting pseudoscience online, especially in the health and nutrition space, is that it can kill them. There are cases where pseudoscience can kill. It's very serious to me, especially with - a lot of people might not like me bringing up the pandemic, but I mean, that was a case where misinformation pseudoscience really impacted society at large to a great extent and put a lot of people's health and lives at risk. So I take the demarcation of science very seriously and trying to get people to think in more in terms of science and adopt content that's science-based.
Karina Inkster: Well said. How do you think pseudoscience and veganism collide? I feel like for whatever reason, veganism has such a high percentage as a movement of pseudoscience. We're talking like fruitarianism and juice cleanses and 80-10-10 diets, and who knows what the hell else. Why is there so much pseudoscience in veganism or is it just everywhere?
Jaebien Rosario: I would say in the health and wellness space in general, there's pseudoscience, but I think veganism specifically is caught up in the fallacy of appealing to nature. Kind of like what the carnivore space does as well. This idea that because something is natural, it is, therefore, better and is therefore preferable to something that we consider unnatural. So you would notice that a lot of people who are saying to go fruitarian or go... These very restrictive vegan approaches are coming at it from an angle. This is natural. This is naturally what's good for your body. This will naturally detox in your body. This is what nature intended. This is also what I see with the alkaline vegan community.
Karina Inkster: Right. Yep.
Jaebien Rosario Great appeals to nature. This idea that what is natural is automatically better. And because fruits and plants and vegetables come from nature, that they're automatically better and superior, which I would argue fruits and vegetables are obviously health-promoting foods and we know this because of the scientific evidence. But besides that, people automatically have these ideas and conceptions about nature and what's natural and how that fits into their approach and what they do. So of course, that invites the way for a lot of pseudosciences because you're going to have grifters who are going to say, well, if you're into fruit or plants or whatever, and you think that's better for you, here's a herb that could cure cancer, and I'm going to sell it for $50 a bottle and you're going to buy it. So it really invites the way for a lot of bullshit.
Karina Inkster: Well, hence the existence of this podcast because I saw the bullshit and I wanted to do something about it, but I feel like I'm chipping away with a tiny little implement at a giant mountain that just seems to be getting bigger, but your work is part of what this movement needs. So I'm glad that you're putting this out into the world.
Jaebien Rosario: Thank you.
Karina Inkster: Where do you start with people on a logistics side? So if someone comes to you and says, "Hey, Jae, I've been following you. I'm liking all this evidence that you're posting. I like the idea of going vegan. Where the hell do I start?" Where do you start with someone who asks you that?
Jaebien Rosario: So it's really hard for me because it's not like you, because you've been vegan for 20 years. I've been vegan for a couple of months, so I'm going to start small. I started small, and if anything, I would advise another person to start small. I started with a meal, a meal event. I said, you know what? Let me look up a vegan recipe. Something very quick and easy for me to do. And something that I really liked to eat was eggs every morning, scrambled eggs. So I said, what's the substitute for scrambled eggs? And I saw this recipe for scrambled tofu, and I said, I never had tofu before. So I went to an Asian market. I bought a crap load of tofu. And I said, okay, I didn't know I needed a tofu press. So I pressed it myself. I saw the recipe online, put it in there, got the nutritional yeast, put the seasonings, and I was like, boom, this tastes not that bad.
This tastes pretty good. This tastes almost like eggs. And from there, I just kept going to different recipes. I was like, all right, what can I eat here? What can I substitute here? What can I do here? What can I do there? And eventually, that got me to the point where I'm eating all these plant-based foods, all these vegan foods. And a lot of what also helped is the vegan meat substitutes. So the Beyond Burgers, the chicken patties, a lot of Impossible chicken nuggets. Those are my freaking favourite. Those help me out a lot because I like chicken nuggets. So I'm like, I'm going to have foods that I like that I could substitute that are going to help me on my journey.
Karina Inkster: Such a good point. I've probably said this on the podcast a billion times, but I'll say it again. I didn't go vegan because I didn't like the taste of animal products. I went vegan because I wanted to avoid harming animals. So the options that we have nowadays, which by the way, are way better than 20 years ago, are fantastic. Why not? If you can do a similar texture and taste and meal with plants, and it's not necessarily something you're going to eat every day, like a Beyond Burger, I'm not eating a Beyond Burger every day, but I love Beyond Burgers. It's great having these options. They're plant-based. They make transitioning easier for folks. And that's really the whole point, isn't it?
Jaebien Rosario: Exactly. Instead of having regular chicken nuggets, I can have Impossible chicken nuggets and it tastes damn near the same thing. I have a chicken patty and it tastes damn near the same thing, and no animals were killed for that. It is just... It's just transitioning. You have to substitute what you already like for something that's similar to what you like. I think that's what has really helped me along this journey.
Karina Inkster: Absolutely. So where are you at with the climate piece and the environment piece, all these kind of, athletic performance, all that kind of stuff? I feel like the environmental side has a ton of research behind it. We know what animal agriculture does to our environment. We know that plant-based resources or plant-based foods require fewer resources in general. I haven't looked at it in the last six months probably, but I feel like we need more research in the athletic department around increasing athletic performance on a plant-based diet. There's anecdotal evidence. There are people who have theories about, well, maybe it's an increased intake of anti-inflammatory foods. Where are you at with the other than ethical reasons for going vegan?
Jaebien Rosario: So most of the time, the research and I'm focused on is longevity. I'm really interested in the longevity piece. The environmental piece, I have looked into. I've read a lot into - a great resource is Our World in Data. There's a researcher, I forgot her name, but she usually writes the Our World in Data pieces. And her specialty is in food systems and agriculture. And so the research from that group has really shown me that animal agriculture overall consumes more resources, uses more land, and things like people complain about crop deaths. Well, a lot of the cereal production goes to feeding these animals that are livestock. So if you really care about crop deaths, stop eating animals first and foremost. A lot of that I've seen from... I've looked at from a resource perspective that animal agriculture overall uses more resources than plant agriculture. And that's been the extent that I've looked into, the more environmental piece.
So that's another justification for cutting back on animal products, stop eating animal products overall. Now, when it comes to the more athletic side, I’d say the thing that I focus on more-so with I would say athletics, is strength and hypertrophy. So I’ haven’t focused more on endurance-based athletic performance, but I wanted to see if there was a difference between hypertrophy for individuals who consumed plant-based proteins versus animal-based proteins. And largely, I've been sort of reaffirmed that there is no major difference if protein source and protein quantity is equated, strength included as well. So that's been kind of the extent that I've looked at it. But from a longevity standpoint, that's what I've been really focused on in plant-based diets; overwhelmingly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, things of that nature. And there's nothing more I could say about that. If you really care about your long-term health, you need more plants.
Karina Inkster: Simple as that. Simple as that. By the way, just for listeners who don't know what hypertrophy means, it's muscle growth, but we talk about that kind of thing all the time around here, so most folks probably know. But for new listeners, muscle growth, strength gains. Research shows, there's really no difference if you're equating for things like calories and type of training, overall protein content, if those are equal among different groups of folks eating different diets. So really no appreciable differences in any of those things.
Jaebien Rosario: Exactly. I didn't add the fundamental context that you just did, which is great. Thank you so much for that. But yeah, if all things are pretty much equal and you're consuming a high-quality plant protein source, there's no major difference. You have to be more considerate of overall protein because sometimes I don't like the bioavailability argument, but sometimes certain protein sources are a little bit harder to, I guess, get from certain plant sources rather than others. So yeah, I mean, you correct me on that but...
Karina Inkster No, well, I'm interested, you said, I don't want to go into the bioavailability or you don't like the bioavailability argument. How come?
Jaebien Rosario: Yeah, because certain individuals will claim that animal-based products are inherently superior because they're both more bioavailable for the body than plant-based protein sources, which I mean, if you look at the human outcome data, like I said, even if anima-based products have higher PDC AA scores, which is one marker of bioavailability, the human outcome data doesn't really care. Let's say if I'm consuming chicken or beef or whatever, and that's, quote-unquote, “more bioavailable,” but I'm having also quality plant-based sources, and we're achieving the same amount of muscle growth or strength gains, doesn't really fricking matter if one is more bioavailable than the other. No, it doesn't.
Karina Inkster: Good point. Actually, that's something that happens a lot in the health and fitness and diet world, is you find something like, oh, well, maybe plant-based proteins are less bioavailable. And then all the headlines say that one thing, right? And there's no context saying, yeah, but actually it doesn't make any difference. So you don't need to give a shit about that. In the real-life outcome, there's no difference.
Jaebien Rosario: Exactly. So I mean, if there was a difference, then yeah, obviously that would be a considerable topic to talk about, but we can't speculate on mechanisms. This is what a lot of people do. They see a mechanism, they speculate about it, and they sort of run with it. But you have to look at the actual human outcome data. When we look at real life, quote-unquote, “real world scenarios,” and we look at the hard endpoint, is there appreciable differences there? And if there isn't, then what the hell are we talking about when it comes to mechanisms? It doesn't matter.
Karina Inkster: Such a great point. Hey, is there anything that we've missed? Any last words for our listeners before I let you go?
Jaebien Rosario: No, I just want people to realize that if you're going to adopt a vegan diet, look at it from an ethical standpoint. Obviously the health stuff matters, the environmental piece matters, but think about the animals first and foremost. This is what we're doing it for. This is who we're doing it for. We want to end animal suffering and exploitation. And one of the ways that we can do that is to go vegan. And that's what people should be thinking about when talking about these topics.
Karina Inkster: A hundred percent agreed. You're not surprised that I'm fully on board with this approach.
Jaebien Rosario Yes.
Karina Inkster: So great to speak with you, Jae. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.
Jaebien Rosario: Thank you so much for having me.
Karina Inkster: Jaebien, thank you again for joining me. What a great discussion, and it's much appreciated. Access our show notes and connect with Jae at nobullshitvegan.com/147, and don't forget to download your very awesome and very free copy of the No Bullshit Vegan ebook at nobullshitvegan.com/ebook. Thanks so much for supporting the show.