Philip Boucher-Hayes says vegan diet did not work

What Are You Eating? returns for a new series. This season presenter Philip Boucher-Hayes takes on the challenge of trying the now very fashionable vegan diet for a month.

Watch the programme live tonight or on RTE player

Just heard Philip Boucher Hayes talk about the shocking side effects of a vegan diet he lost 2% of his bone density while on the diet and he was really concerned about protein deficiency and describe it as a fad diet.

Philip says he came into this with an open mind but he needs to do some more research before he makes his mind up and concludes that this diet is dangerous for him on the basis that he lost 2% of his bone density in 28 days.

A basic google search on this shows up the following  results


I would like to point out thanks to the excellent work of the University of Washington osteoporosis specialist, Dr. Susan Ott, we now know that the common bone density test is rather imprecise and large changes in density are needed to assure that bone loss is indeed occurring, much less significant in nature. A thoughtful scientist, Dr. Ott had 300 patients get two bone density measurements: one when they came into the room, and the second after walking around the room for a while. With this simple experiment, she showed that repeat measurements on the same day may show as much as 7% difference in bone mineral density. Breaking down the data she found that while a 4-6% change in bone mineral density indicates a “probably change” it takes more than a 6% change to fully guarantee a statistically significant change in bone density.The Better Bones perspective on bone density testing: Bone density testing can be useful, especially when spaced over many years, but small changes are not significant.


Bone density testing on the same machine and operator, same time of day, 2 weeks apart, gave a range from -1.5 to -5.7% difference one year and +1.2 to -4.8% the next. An article in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research reported 4% variation in bone scans taken within 7 days, so these findings might be common if women were to do repeat testing. (Neither dexa scan operator had ever done a repeat test, so they were both surprised by the discrepancy in the results.) For individual results as opposed to a group study where individual variations are averaged, I’ll look for long-term trends of 6-7% change over a number of years before celebrating or lamenting dexa scan results. (Y. Lu, T. Fuerst, S. Hui and H.K. Genant, Standardization of Bone Mineral Density at Femoral Neck, Trochanter and Ward’s Triangle, Osteoporos Int (2001) 12:438-444. and Hui, SL, et al. Universal Standardization of Bone Density Measurements: A Method with Optimal Properties for Calibration Among Several Instruments. J Bone Mineral Research 1997; 12:1463-70.)


Some more reading on osteopeniaon

Now regarding Philips worry about protein deficiency from eating a plant-based diet I will quote some information on this from Dr John McDougall


Since plants are made up of structurally sound cells with enzymes and hormones, they are by nature rich sources of proteins.  In fact, so rich are plants that they can meet the protein needs of the earth’s largest animals: elephants, hippopotamuses, giraffes, and cows.  You would be correct to deduce that the protein needs of relatively small humans can easily be met by plants.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that men and women obtain 5% of their calories as protein.  This would mean 38 grams of protein for a man burning 3000 calories a day and 29 grams for a woman using 2300 calories a day.  This quantity of protein is impossible to avoid when daily calorie needs are met by unrefined starches and vegetables. For example, rice alone would provide 71 grams of highly useable protein and white potatoes would provide 64 grams of protein.8 Our greatest time of growth—thus, the time of our greatest need for protein—is during our first 2 years of life—we double in size. At this vigorous developmental stage, our ideal food is human milk, which is 5% protein.  Compare this need to food choices that should be made as adults—when we are not growing. Rice is 8% protein, corn 11%, oatmeal 15%, and beans 27%.8  Thus protein deficiency is impossible when calorie needs are met by eating unprocessed starches and vegetables.

The healthy active lives of hundreds of millions of people labouring in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America on diets with less than half the amount of protein eaten by Americans and Europeans prove that the popular understanding of our protein needs is seriously flawed.

Consuming animal flesh does add more protein to your body, however, this excess is unnecessary because protein deficiency is unknown, and in today’s world, diseases of protein excess (like osteoporosis, kidney stones, kidney and liver damage) are universal among my patients. And yes, consuming mammalian milk does add more calcium to the diet, but this is also superfluous because calcium deficiency is unknown and milk is a leading cause of heart disease, obesity, and inflammatory arthritis.

The above information leaves me in very little doubt that the only supplements a person needs on a whole food plant-based diet are B12 and vitamin D if you are not getting it from the sun.



Philip was worried about the fact that the vegan milk he was drinking had 10 times less protein than cows milk, perhaps he should be more worried about the fact that cows milk is for calves and has 2.5 times more protein per calorie than mothers breast milk.If he is going to consume milk on its % protein then he should consume rats milk as it has 10 times the protein of mothers milk and it’s no coincidence that calves grow at 2.5 times the rate of babies and rats grow at 10 times the rate of babies.

I was surprised that a person who is informed of the dangers of processed food should be feeding his kids sausages knowing that such processed food without any doubt has been proven to increase you or your kid’s risk of getting cancer as has been said many times meat is the new tobacco.


Also, I would like to point out that we did not eat that much meat in olden times in Ireland here are some references to back up that fact

“Meat was very seldom used. Bacon was also little used”

“People scarcely eat any meat long ago”

“Meat was very seldom used”

“Meat in those days was a luxury, and was rarely used.”

“Meat was not eaten often.”

“The people did not eat meat very often”

“Butchers meat was unknown.”

“Meat was not often used at the meals.”

“The people used eat hardly any meat atall.”

“Seldom meat was used”

“Meat was not eaten in those days.”

“Meat was also used sometimes salt and sometimes fresh”

“Meat was not used often in those days.

“Meat was seldom eaten.”

“Then they used to start lamenting because they wouldn’t have tea or meat for the rest of the year and they used to say :- An dha lá deag is mó creach ceat Nodlag.”

“Meat was seldom eaten.”

“Meat was seldom eaten any time the had meat, bacon they had.”

“They did not eat much meat.”

“Most of the people did not know the taste of meat.”

“They would get no eggs only at Easter and they hardly ever had meat.”

“Meat was very seldom used.”

“Meat only was eaten by the rich people.”

“Meat was eaten only at Christmas”

“Meat was not eaten so often as it is eaten now.”

“Very little meat was eaten and it was not until American bacon was introduced to the country that people ever knew the taste of flesh meat.”

“Meat was very scarce”

“There was very little meat eaten.”

“people would not get meat from one end of the year to the other”

“Meat was very seldom used”

“Meat was very seldom used”

“Meat was not eaten often,”

“This was a rare treat as seldom or ever they had meat”

“Meat was very seldom used”

“Meat was rarely eaten”

“It was on very rare occasions that meat was eaten”

“Meat was almost unknown there except in the house of one farmer named Power who used to cook meat once in a while for himself only.”

“Meat was not eaten often.”


And at the end of the program, it turns out that he was eating 600 calories less each day this is because whole plant food is less calorie dense so you have to eat much bigger portions of it.

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