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I now present two pieces of information that are supported by the data, as far as I know. Provide a link if you know otherwise.

First, 80% of healthcare costs go toward chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Second, a huge study on diet and its correlation to disease, called The China Study, found that chronic diseases, particularly the ones I just mentioned, only get triggered if you eat a plant based diet, for the most part, regardless of your genetic propensity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study

The author's thesis, backed by a mountain of data, is that the only safe level of animal based food is zero. No milk or cheese either. Moderation simply doesn't work when it comes to eating meat. That's the data talking, not me, according to this expert. I haven't seen any data that contradicts that notion. Provide a link if you have.

As a practical matter, it would be impossible to ban meat from the diets of average Americans. But when you are talking about insurance of any sort, whether it is health or auto or hurricane, we accept the principle that risk factors can be considered in pricing. So all we need to do is charge meat eaters four times as much as vegetarians for health insurance. Over time it will create more vegetarians, for economic reasons alone, and healthcare costs will plummet.

You might say it is unfair for the insurance company to charge a higher premium for earthquake insurance to people who actually live on a fault line. But I say that's just good business.

Insurance companies shouldn't charge more to people who have preexisting or genetic problems of course, as these are things which can't be controlled. But people can certainly control their diets if they want to save money. As it stands now, vegetarians are subsidizing your cheeseburgers by paying more for health insurance than they should. (Insert counterpoint involving the non-existence of free will here.)

I want to stress that I'm not the sort of vegetarian who cares if you live or die, so long as you're enjoying yourself along the way. You can eat rusty tin cans and medical needles for all I care, so long as I don't have to subsidize it.

 
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Jul 28, 2009
What about all the extended senior citizen benefits that vegetarians get from the government by living longer than meat eaters. Medical reimbursements, old-age pensions, etc. In this case people who die early are subsidising the people who live longer.

I knew a government employee who received a pension after retirement for more years than for which he was employed. He was not only a vegetarian, but ate only FRESH vegetables - did not even have a refrigerator in the house as it encouraged eating stale food. Lived till he was 95.

By the way, his wife out-lived him and she was not a vegetarian.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2009
"Insurance companies shouldn't charge more to people who have preexisting or genetic problems of course, as these are things which can't be controlled."

How does the "that's just good business" comment not apply here? The only legal goal of an insurance company is to get the most money out of its customers for the least expenditure on insurance. Whether it be earthquake or health insurance.

You might have aspirations about equal access to health care, but insurance companies don't have an obvious role to play in that.
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2009
Wow, those meat eaters are a surly bunch, aren't they? :)
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
Haha brilliant, I counted about 2 comments that "got it" Its funny how you can post and post and post and all the comments seem to come from rational intelligent etc people but as soon as you throw in a curveball…..

Fun to read, yet still a little scary, after most of the posts you could add "And then he voted"

In all seriousness though the formula for healthiness isn't really that complicated:

- Stress Less

Unlike everything else, where you can find scientific studies for both sides of the argument I highly doubt you'll find anyone saying stress if good for your health. Do whatever reduces your stress levels, meditate, exercise, laugh, whatever.


- Exercise

The body is designed to be in motion, food is fuel, if you don’t exercise your body degrades, do something that will push your body along whatever that is for you personally. Burn that fuel.


- Diet

Probably the least complicated part of being healthy, who remembers the food pyramid from when they were younger? Eat lots of fruit and vegies and grain based food, moderate dairy and meat and few sugars and fats. Simple. BOCTAOE like if you don’t exercise or have unique dietary requirements like being allergic to vegetables.
One of the best tips I heard was that if your great grandmother/father living a hundred years ago wouldn't recognise it as food then its probably not healthy. A tip I use, look at the ingredients, if you cant pronounce the words or it takes you a few goes then its probably not healthy to be eating.




But in terms of saving money I agree that something should be done. In the time honoured democratic tradition of !$%*!$%* stupid and lazy people "lifestyle diseases" should be expensive, the younger you are the more you should pay/the less tax payers should pay. IE a 40 year old fatty suffering a heart attack would be less subsidises then if a 90 year old had a heart attack. BOCTAOE


Maybe the government could create a movement to get people healthy themselves, get people to take an interest in their health. If I were an American taxpayer I would want my tax dollars to help someone that helped themselves. There needs to be a minimum standard for everyone but when that minimum standard starts dragging everyone else down theres a problem.

Then maybe you could export that movement to Australia, we've actually overtaken you yanks in terms of per capita fatness which is truly sad.


But seriously being healthy isn't that hard, heres a tip from me, your tastes will change to what you eat most of. Go without Fast food for a month and then try a burger and I bet it wont taste how you remembered it. In fact the fresh apple will taste much better.
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
Simply put, if this study were true, we'd expect to see lots of other studies either confirming or denying it. Until it's confirmed by a real scientific study, I'll ignore it.

If it were true, then I agree 100% with your conclusion. As an aside, you mentioned people should not be charged more in insurance for things they can't control (genetics, pre-existing conditions). If someone buys into that logic, I'd like to see them explain why males pay more for auto insurance than females, regardless of driving record.
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2009
Some of us -- such as myself -- have pre-existing, genetic conditions that make it a bad decision to be vegetarian (a large amount of fruits and vegetables are, for me, actually trigger foods that aggravate a chronic condition).

It's all about being rational. Eat fish and chicken cooked, not fried. Have a _varied_ diet (admittedly this is difficult for me with so many things I'm supposed to avoid). A nice juicy steak once a week isn't going to kill anyone (I'm not counting the cow). The problem is the people eating fast food multiple times a week, !$%*!$% down pork rinds, ridiculous !$%*!$%*!$ of sugar, or whatever else. Some of us can handle these things in moderation, and should not incur a penalty simply because other people overindulge themselves.

Plus, everyone is different. I remember reading somewhere that the #1 factor for health is genetics, not anything we do. Some peoples' bodies can handle more abuse than others. Why should they pay more if, as it turns out, nothing bad is actually going to happen to them?

I'd rather be stuck with a planet of lazy fatasses than a planet of insufferable, condescending, elitist, vegetarian a-holes, hidden costs be damned.
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
Your arguments don't sound right, some counter-arguments:
1. If you were breast-fed as an infant you're screwed for life.
2. If how much meat you eat doesn't matter (meaning someone who barely eats a slice of lean chicken breast is the same as someone who eats a whole cow), then if you can't go vegetarian you might as well eat as much meat as you please.
3. If it doesn't matter how much meat you eat, then what's the incentive to go vegetarian once you've tasted meat? What about you, have you ever eaten any meat? If so, you might as well give up being a vegetarian as you are screwed anyway.
4. How are they actually going to check if you're a vegetarian? There is no test for that is there? Maybe the test should actually be how much cholesterol or whatever you've got in your body and not how much meat you ate (if any).
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2009
Exactly how does a private health insurance company go about enforcing their deal with the consumer or non-consumer of beefsteak and health insurance? Surprise blood tests? Any of the blood tests I've taken for cholesterol, etc., equire 12 hours of fasting. Obesity smacks of the "pre-existing conditions" that are used to deny health insurance to the less profitable risks.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2009
"Oh, and I forgot to mention that this whole post's point does not actually depend on whether these specific facts about the vegetarian lifestyle are true. This post is about the principle of encouraging more economic healthcare through causing people to be directly and monetarily responsible for their poor lifestyle choices OR rewarded for positive lifestyle choices."

The problem with that premise is that, once again, you're trying to apply a one size fits all approach to large population groups. Yes, if I have high blood pressure (I do) and am overweight (I am) I should have to pay more for insurance, but if you are arguing that meat altogether should be banned as a source of food, or that some individuals should pay a fat tax or a smokers tax (I don't smoke!) then you are using socialistic (little s) pseudo science to control people's lives without really understanding the individual parts. To use your own analogy that you used in one of your books, Scott, it's kind of like a bear dancing with an ant. The ant will realize that it's a mistake long before the bear does. And yes, any attack on our freedom is a personal attack on all of us. I think that enough people have already posted links to articles debunking "the China Study," so I don't even have to argue anymore.

The problem with the whole, "I should get to control you if your behavior costs me more" attitude is that it could apply to a lot of things that you have never even thought of. In the previous blog post I posted a link to an article about a study which took place in the netherlands in 2003 arguing that people with unhealthy lifestyles actually cost us less, because they die sooner than the healthy people whose bodies are simply allowed to grow old and frail causing them to require round the clock healthcare well into their 80's. Probably, one of the greatest causes of increased healthcare costs is the fact that people are living longer than ever, and here in the United States, elderly people have access to healthcare services that they would probably be declined for in the countries with traditional nationalized healthcare. Services for the elderly are the first to get the axe in a rationed system. Remember the GOmers from "Scrubs." JUst a few decades ago, those same old people would just drop dead, saving us billions. Should they be punished for costing us more by living longer? I don't think so. How we're gonna pay for it all is a subject of debate, but the whole "your lifestyle is costing us more" argument opens the door for things you probably aren't prepared for.
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
Come on, Scott. Stop even trying to feign support of freedom.

And do you know anything at all about economics or do you just make it up as you go along. What ever sounds goo to you, right?
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
So does this mean we should require vegetarian formula for babies? And don't woman who breast feed get lower rates of breast cancer?
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2009
I think Minakl, above, meant "avoid a plant based diet".
And I agree with him, Scott, your sentence seems to go against the rest of your argument.

But, I think vegetarianism is faulty. If you need to take supplements to keep you healthy, then your diet is not healthy. The fact is, that meat provides us with a substantial amount of nutrients that is very hard to get from other sources.

I don't think you can blame cancer on eating meat. How about all the toxins that get sprayed on vegetables? Or the chemicals that leach out of your brand new 50" LCD TV when it heats up, emitting that "new electronics" smell", that you happily smell, because it makes your Law & Order:SVU that much sharper. Or that plastic water bottle you totted on your healthy hike up a green mountain path, panting and working those muscles in the hot sun, while it beamed on that container and leached bisphenol A into the water.

And heart disease? I mean, c'mon... they just made that one up, so they could start making chemicals to treat it. It's like "death disease". Eventually, everyone gets it, no matter how healthy your lifestyle.

We all start to get pretty crappy looking & feeling near the end. The machine wears out. It's by design (not Intelligent Design, let's not even get into that).
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2009
I'm actually quite disappointed in you.

I thought you would at least have the sense not to contradict your own source. You said:

"The author's thesis, backed by a mountain of data, is that the only safe level of animal based food is zero. No milk or cheese either. Moderation simply doesn't work when it comes to eating meat."

...implying that according to this study only strict veganism will save us from cancer, heart disease, etc.

Your own source says:

"The authors conclude that “the findings from the China Study indicate that the lower the percentage of animal-based foods that are consumed, the greater the health benefits—even when that percentage declines from 10% to 0% of calories. So it’s not unreasonable to assume that the optimum percentage of animal-based products is zero, at least for anyone with a predisposition for a degenerative disease.”

Even the authors of this study are not claiming what you claim. The Wikipedia text makes it clear that lowering your animal-based food consumption - if you believe the study - lowers the risk. So, even your own source is saying that moderation *does* work. It may not be optimal but it does work.


Leaving aside your - hopefully accidental - misrepresentation of the facts, I can't honestly put too much faith in this study. As someone on a serious effort to improve their health right now, I am trying to keep it simple, and eat what I am meant to eat. My ideal diet would be lots of vegetables and some fruit for sure, but it would also involve meat. Because we evolved eating meat. We are designed to eat meat. Of course, you don't believe in evolution either, do you ;-)
 
 
-5 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2009
Oh how I love when Scott riles up the masses!

All this frothing at the mouth over what? Scott has an opinion - more like, puts forth a strawman - shares it on HIS blog - and people like tkwelge take it as a personal affront.

I'm laughing all the way to my 3:30 meeting.

Thanks Scott - this one was a home run.
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
What the study *actually* found that there is a correlation between cholesterol levels and chronic disease, and that "other studies" have linked animal product intake with cholesterol level. I am fortunate that I have amazingly good cholesterol levels, even though I eat plenty of animals. By amazing I mean, doctors are shocked when they see my test results. So why should I have to pay more if my primary risk indicator -- cholesterol level -- is on a par with that of vegetarians?

There's no question that I inherited my cholesterol "resistance", as my father also had very low cholesterol levels. Exercise doesn't explain it as he led a very sedentary life. Diet can't explain it because I'm an Atkins dieter. So does that mean we can't use cholesterol in an insurance premium calculation because it's quite likely that it is something that you inherit a genetic predisposition towards?
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
Oh, and I forgot to mention that this whole post's point does not actually depend on whether these specific facts about the vegetarian lifestyle are true. This post is about the principle of encouraging more economic healthcare through causing people to be directly and monetarily responsible for their poor lifestyle choices OR rewarded for positive lifestyle choices.
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
All Scott is saying is analogous to "Smokers should have to pay more toward healthcare." The only way you'd be disagreeing is if you were a smoker who wanted others to pay for your voluntary carelessness toward your own health.
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
Linda McCartney was vegan. She died of breast cancer.
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
Funny post. Most of your facts are completely wrong, as far as I know. And I'm always right, at least 75% of the time.
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
"80% of healthcare costs go toward chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease."

So couldn't we just drastically reduce health-care costs by NOT treating people with diabetes, cancer and heart disease? Shouldn't there be a private health insurance company that only offers insurance for vegetarians? Wouldn't that health insurance be far cheaper than others?
 
 
 
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