On the trot

Sydney Morning Herald: Vegetarian diet twice as effective for weight-loss, new research shows

Low-calorie diets are notoriously difficult to maintain in the long-term. But they may be unnecessary. Switching to a vegetarian diet can be twice as effective for weight-loss as counting calories, according to new research.

So is catching dysentery.

Options

Roast child

Roast child… Mmmmmm!

Please don't tell any of our friends, but…

Jen and I cooked a vegetarian meal last night, and it was bloody brilliant: Mediterranean and Basil Pasta.

We then discussed which meat or fish we would add to make it into food. My money's on sardines, but it's just a hunch.

Recommended reading

The Guardian bookshop has a special offer on (for today only): Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg Every Day! for just £15. This is a real bargain, considering the book is currently a whopping £11.99 on Amazon.

But look at which other books the Guardian thinks you may [sic] also like, if you're the sort of person who is likely to buy a vegetarian cookbook:

Cropped screenshot

Guardian screenshot (cropped).

(Serves you right.)

Lentils

I have no idea who Alicia Silverstone is. Sure, I know the name, but I don't know why she's famous. Perhaps her dad designed Formula One race tracks or something. I could look it up, I suppose, but life's too short.

Anyway, Alicia Silverstone has got her kit off to make a pro-veggie ad. Never one to miss an opportunity for some gratuitous female nudity on Gruts, why don't I show it to you?

Alicia Silverstone seems like a nice lass. For a veggie with an obnoxiously twangy American accent, I mean. They're usually such miserable sods. Vegetarians, I mean, not Americans. Not all of them, you understand—some of my best friends are veggies—but an awful lot of them are such miserable, joyless, pasty-faced sods. Vegetarians, I mean, not my friends. And it's no coincidence they're miserable, joyless, pasty-faced sods: not enough meat, you see.

Anyway, the American pro-meat brigade have responded to the Alicia Silverstone ad with an identical one of their own. Identical, that is, except this one stars a fat bloke with a 'tache. Never one to seize an opportunity for some gratuitous male nudity on Gruts, why don't I post a link to it on YouTube instead?

Do you see what they're doing, there? They're trying to imply that being a vegetarian makes you into a sexy babe, whereas being a meat-eater makes you into a fat bloke with a 'tache. No mention of miserable, pasty-facedness. No mention of obnoxiously twangy American accents. No mention of poo that smells of lentils. No, become a veggie and become a sexy babe like Alicia Silverstone; eat meat and become a fat bloke with a 'tache; that's what they're saying.

Well, let me present you with an alternative dichotomy. Compare and contrast:

Some carrots

A vegetarian dinner this evening.

My dinner

My dinner this evening

Not so smug now, eh, Alicia?

Correlation v Causation

BBC: 'No proof' organic food is better

There is no evidence organic food is better for you than conventional food, minister David Miliband has said.

Mr Miliband is probably right. But while there may be no causational link between organic food and nutritious, tasty food, there definitely appears to be a correlation between the two.

It's like vegetarianism. Vegetarians often claim that they are, on average, healthier than us omnivores. That may well be true—they're also a lot more miserable and pasty-faced on average, if you ask me—but that doesn't necessarily mean that vegetarianism is the cause of their better health. People who are keen to have healthy lifestyles are more likely than those who aren't to exercise more, drink less, smoke less, eat more sensibly and, in extreme cases, go veggie "because it's good for you". So people who are more likely to be healthy anyway are more likely to turn vegetarian. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's also a nice example of sampling bias.

It's the same, I suspect, with organic food. Organic food is not necessarily better for you, but producers of organic food tend to treat their products (and customers) with respect, so they end up with a better, tastier product. Take bacon, for example. Organic, dry-cured, free range bacon knocks the water-filled, globby, mass-produced shite they sell on the cheap shelves into a cocked hat. Next time you're in a butcher's, ask them for proper bacon—they'll know what you mean.

The reason, I suspect, that Mr Miliband made his comment is that he is the food minister—the man responsible for feeding the country. Intensive farming might yield less tasty food, but it's certainly a more efficient and economical way of feeding the masses.

Other correlation v causation pieces: