Debunking What Are You Eating 8th March 2017 a closer look


When you look at the pre-publicity and the contents and conclusions of the programme What are you eating aired on Thursday the 8th of March I can only conclude that RTE has let the public down. It matters that our leading broadcaster and public funded TV station should air such an ill-informed program particularly for an award-winning journalist who is the head of RTÉ’s Radio Investigative unit to reach the conclusions that he did, is in my view is very disappointing.Irelands hospitals are bursting at the seams with patients with conditions that can be helped or avoided by changing their diet to a whole plant-based vegan diet.  A plant-based diet is associated with a longer and healthier life, it can help prevent or reverse and slow down the progression of many chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, it also lowers your overall risk of cancer, especially colorectal cancer.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” …….Hippocrates

That a statement made over 2500 years ago is still true today. By ‘food’, Hippocrates wasn’t talking about what most Irish people eat daily, fast food, fried foods, pizza, sausages, rashers, hams, sweets and treats.
For food to be your medicine, it needs to be real food in it’s whole form with minimal processing.

How a properly thought out vegan diet under the guidance of a Consultant Dietitian could conclude that a person could lose 3% of his muscle mass and 2% of his bone density and his body to become lopsided in the space of 28 days is beyond comprehension.

Misinformation from the media leads to disastrous outcomes. It is irresponsible for RTE to conclude that a properly thought out vegan diet caused serious health issues and for Philip Boucher Hayes to say “if it happens to me it’s happening to anybody else who tries to take on this diet”.

Here is a transcript of  what Philip  Boucher  Hayes said for the pre-publicity  taken from RTE’s website    https://www.Rte.Ie/lifestyle/food/2018/0308/945877-is-veganism-as-healthy-as-people-think-it-is/

What we did when I did the vegan diet as I did with other fad diets that I have done previously was I went for a raft of checkups they took so much blood out of me I was like a pin cushion I had various scans for my bone density and my muscle disposition and so on so as we would have a really reliable before and after much more reliable  scientific information than most people embracing these kind of lifestyles or diets would have  and  we were able to monitor in minute detail what happened to me and a lot happened to me in a very short space of time I am not some dietary or biological  freak I am pretty much a every man, so if it happens to me it’s happening to anybody else who try’s to take on this diet.

And some quotes from the pre-publicity from the  Ray Darcy show.

I did it and embraced it as wholehearted as enthusiastically as I could

It is damned hard to get your protein on a vegan diet, (not true) where he explained that he lost 3% of his bone density, 2kg of muscle mass and his body went lopsided.

However, all of these negative results appear to have originated from one source a  Tanita body composition analyzer, which the manufacturer who has examined the data has said the worrying results are likely to due to water loss rather than a real loss of bone density or muscle loss.

I find it strange that no doctor, gave a report on basic blood results, cholesterol readings, or blood pressure results, things which have been proven to improve on a properly thought out vegetarian diet when you reduce your dietary cholesterol which only comes from animal products.

It does not make sense that a vegan diet that works for so many top athletes, for example, the Grand Slam tennis ace Serena Williams. Four-time Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, boxer David Haye and many NFL players who are going 100% or almost 100% plant-based, Tom Brady the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player for the last 3 seasons credits his success to his plant-based diet.In 2018, Brady threw for 505 yards at 40 years old, setting a record for most passing yards in a Super Bowl, This is not new information that has just come out in the last few years, Carol Lewis Lewis voted  World Athlete of the Century credits his outstanding 1991 results in part to the vegan diet he adopted in 1990,many long distance athletes from Africa do very well on a vegan or near vegan diet. The Roman gladiators consumed a vegan or near vegan diet without the help from a Dietitian, so for Philip Boucher- Hayes to have such a bad experience seem out of step with the bulk of published data on the effects of a properly thought out vegan diet on the human body.

The conclusions of this programme were so outrageous that I decided to  investigate the main conclusions, first off I sent the data that was presented on the show to be reviewed  by Tanita Corporation who manufacture the  Segmental Body Composition Analyzer and then I reviewed some of the pre-publicity that was aired by RTE to promote the programme and spoke to some people that were involved with the programme, the result of this investigation prompted me to ask some questions  and make some comments. 

1 When the data shown on the programme was reviewed by an expert from Tanita Corporation, who manufacture the Segmental Body Composition Analyzer, they concluded that the reported loss of a good 2Kg of muscle  mass and a 2 % loss of bone from the diet in one month is likely to be incorrect, below is a statement from them that explains how this might happen.

Reviewing this data, it is likely that the measured values for bone mass and muscle mass are a result of higher water weight loss.  Some background, our products do not measure fat, water, muscle, etc. directly.  The only two values measured directly are weight and impedance; all other measurements are calculated using equations based on these and other values such as height, gender, activity level etc.  Impedance is measured by sending a low, safe electrical signal through the body, and can be described as a measurement of the strength and speed of that signal.  Because muscle tissue has a high water and electrolyte content (compared to fat), the electrical signal passes through with ease.  However, when the signal encounters fat mass, it must work harder to pass through because fat contains only a small percentage of water.  When the scale detects less water the equations will automatically calculate lower muscle and bone mass values (bone mass in linked to muscle mass).  As you may know, it is not uncommon for people to lose more water weight during the initial stages of weight loss as the body adjusts to the reduced caloric intake.  The MC-780U provides a detailed breakdown on body water, with total water as well as intracellular and extracellular values.  You should review this data, with an eye towards the differences in percent of total weight for each of these values over time to monitor his water loss in relationship to his total weight.

Keith Erickson

Tanita Corporation

It is clear when you look at the manual for the body composition analyzer that unless it is used correctly it will give false readings, below are the instructions from the manual.

– Factors giving errors in measurement

In the BIA method, impedance is measured and the body composition is calculated based on the value. It is known that impedance changes by the amount of the total body water that occupies about 60% of weight and the change in its distribution and temperature change. Therefore, for the purpose of research or for daily repeating of measurements, the measurement conditions must be kept constant. Measurement under the changing conditions of temperature and total body water distribution or blood flow volume of extremities due to exercising, taking a bath, etc., affects the measurement result since the electric resistance in the body also changes. Therefore, it is recommended to measure under the following conditions for stable measurement.

1) 3 hours have passed after getting up and normal lifestyle activities are carried out during this period. (The impedance transits staying at a high level if you remain sitting after getting up or drive a car, etc.)

 2) 3 hours or more have passed after eating. (For 2 – 3 hours after eating, the impedance has a tendency to decrease.)

3) 12 hours or more have passed after vigorous exercise for measurement. (The tendency toward changes in impedance is not stable depending on the type and rigorousness of the exercise.)

4) If possible urinate before taking a measurement.

5) For repeated measurements, measure at the same hour as much as possible. (At the same time of measurement of weight, the measurements can be made more stable by measuring at the same time of the day)

Very stable measured values can be obtained by measuring under the above conditions. And in the development of this equipment, the following 6 items were set as conditions for the regression equation.

1) Prohibition of alcohol intake for 12 hours before measurement

2) Prohibition of excessive exercise for 12 hours before measurement.

3) Prohibition of excessive eating and drinking the day before measurement

4) Prohibition of eating and drinking for 3 hours before measurement

5) Urination just before measurement

From reading the information in the suppliers manual and reading the reply from the manufacturer there is no doubt in my mind the results and conclusions on bone and muscle loss are incorrect.

2 I understand that full blood tests were done what was the results of these tests and why were they not published.

3 Were any medical doctors ( and if not why not? )involved if so what were their findings? 

4 There was a lot of concern expressed about protein on the program and when the food intake was reviewed it was short about 600 calories each day and short of protein, can you publish the full records of the food consumed so an independent review can be done.

5 On the Ray Darcy show prior to the show being aired Philip said he lost 3% of his bones density because of the diet while on the actual show it was said it was 2% can the full report that was briefly shown on TV be made available.

6 Philip seemed very concerned about this loss of bone density has he contacted a bone specialist to check if he has anything to worry about.

7 Is it true that Philips blood pressure improved while he was on the vegan diet if so why was this fact not reported on the show.

8 Philips BMI went from 27.03  to 25.47 on the vegan diet, he almost made it from overweight to normal weight,no weight loss figures were mentioned on the show, the words used to brush over his weight loss were “the weight loss probably was not necessarily a bad thing you needed to lose a little bit”   Philips weight went from 86.6Kg to 81.6Kg a 5Kg drop in 28 days these figures were not mentioned and if they were it would have been seen as a positive thing for the vegan diet instead of the phrase used to describe his weight loss was “not necessarily a bad thing” so even his weight loss might have been a bad thing. Another week on the vegan diet and he would have been in the normal range.His weight and other data were only found out by stopping the recording on the RTE website and reading the reports that were on Aveen desk.

9 When Philip was challenged about the fact that the World Health Organisation said processed meat causes cancer Philip the experienced broadcaster that he is said with the air of authority and confidence “hold on a second     — “increases your risk of exposure is not automatically carcinogenic “.  Philips rebuttal of the point did not make much sense, but because he said in such a confident manner a viewer could come away with the view that the World Health Organisation did not say processed meat causes cancer.  Can Philip investigate what the World Health Organisation has said about processed meat and correct the record?

To help with your investigation here is the link. features/qa/cancer-red-meat/ en/

Here is the information.

Processed meat was classified as Group 1, carcinogenic to humans. What does this mean?

This category is used when there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans. In other words, there is convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer. The evaluation is usually based on epidemiological studies showing the development of cancer in exposed humans.

In the case of processed meat, this classification is based on sufficient evidence from epidemiological studies that eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer.

Speaking of processed meat Philip said that the hardest time to stick to the diet was when he was cooking sausages for his kids he had to leave the kitchen because of his cravings for this food. The cravings for certain types of food are linked to their ingredients, so I would ask Philip not to discard the advice of the World Health Organization who say processed meat causes cancer, investigate the evidence and decide if sausages are a suitable food for you to feed to your kids. 

10 Somehow Philip was under fed 600 calories per day this alone should have invalidated the whole experiment, how did this happen?

11  Philip is recently quoted as saying  I have chronically high cholesterol, with people dropping dead of heart attacks on both sides of the family, to avoid a heart attack what diet does he think would be best for people with his genetic condition, or does he think his genetic makeup has already decided his fate and a balanced diet with everything in moderation is his best chance of avoiding a heart attack? Philip, it would have been great if you shared the work of Dr Dean Ornish or Dr. Esselstyn  who proved in peered review studies that heart disease can be reversed by a plant-based diet.Bill Clinton says after reading what these two doctors have to say he switched to a whole food plant based diet.I know time is limited on the programme but perhaps the programme would have been more balanced if the segment with Darina Allen slagging off vegans as been cranky and needing a good steak to correct their mood disorder was replaced with some information from  Dr Dean Ornish or Dr. Esselstyn .


12 What exactly and in what amount were the supplements that Philip was advised to take.

13 An expert was shown on the show saying we have been eating meat for millions of years and perhaps we have been eating meat for this length of time what the expert did not say was how much meat was eaten as we evolved ,so please dont justify our current massive over-consumption of farmed animal products on the basis that we ate some wild animals in the past.

14 The programme seemed to be unbalanced all these words or phrases were used to describe vegans or the vegan experience in a negative light.

Fashionable, lonely, horrible, cheating, hardcore, virtues vegan, vegetarian craze, cranky, new converts, challenge, hate vegans, been around vegans make me feel bad, really restrictive, smacks of western indulgence, fashion on the rise, veganism has not been fun until now, doing my health serious damage, weak, fatigue, depressed, faddish, fatigued,its not easy.


15 Philip says that a vegan diet is a fad diet is he aware of all mainstream Irish, UK and American   Nutrition and Dietetics experts agree that a vegan or vegetarian is suitable for all stages of life?

It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage. Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity. Low intake of saturated fat and high intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds (all rich in fiber and phytochemicals) are characteristics of vegetarian and vegan diets that produce lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and better serum glucose control. These factors contribute to reduction of chronic disease. Vegans need reliable sources of vitamin B-12, such as fortified foods or supplements.

16The programme was biased with unequal airtime given to the pro-meat experts.Can RTE analyse the programme and did both sides get equal time to make their case?

Why was Dorina Allen given airtime to talk about the vegetarian craze and how the people who worked in the health food shops years ago were all crankey and needed to eat a good steak, presumably to cure them of their vegetarian induced mental problems.Could this time have been better utilised by showing some of the 2 hours spent with Sandra Higgins from, her contribution never made it to the show.Roger Yates was the only well known vegan person who was given a proper slot on the show.

After reading the questions above, can RTE look at the programme and also looks the pre and post interviews broadcast on RTE about the show and determine if the Show was in any way below the standards the RTE aspire to. For an award-winning journalist who is head of RTÉ’s Radio Investigative Unit to reach the conclusions that he did in my view is very disappointing.

If you really wanted to Investigate the effects of a vegan diet on your body you would get a doctor involved and get a full set of blood results done pre and post, in particular, you could release the results of your cholesterol tests, tell them if your blood pressure changed over the 28 days, Instead you choose to base your conclusions on a weighing scales that also measures how well the body conducts electricity between the feet and the hands this piece of equipment can produce impressive reports but these reports are only accurate if you follow the manufactures instructions fully.

A few people mostly from the vegan community as were some health professions were upset with the conclusions of the programme, however, the bulk of big business that advertises on RTE will not be upset.I dont see the farmers who grow potatoes, kale, carrots, peas, corn, apples, tomatoes, etc  advertising much on RTE so they won’t have any influence

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