The Kiwi ANZACs, widely considered to be the fittest troops in the Allied armies in two world wars, were raised in a nation where per capita weekly butter consumption was 415 grams. It is now 112 grams, which is half of the reduced 1940s wartime ration. The consumption of fat from red meat has also decreased as drastically. We eat fewer eggs and drink less full-fat milk.
There is a fallacy that stems initially from the Western intellectual's sense of cultural inadequacy and guilt, and the assumption that Eastern cultures must somehow be purer and wiser. One of the features of Eastern religious culture identified early on by aficionados like Schopenhauer – because the things that are unusual in a culture attract attention first - was vegetarianism. The reality of Buddhist and Hindu society, like all successful human society, didn't involve denial of animal foods (the Dalai Lama eats meat, observant Hindus cook with butter fat), but the ideal, already present in Western ascetic tradition and not associated there with robust physical or mental health, had a persistent appeal, which found expression in the early temperance, vegetarian and vegan movements.
It was studying the life cycle of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that eventually forced me to question my received beliefs about fat, carbohydrate, and cholesterol:
- HCV uses VLDL to exit infected cells; starches and sugars increase VLDL production.
- HCV infects new cells through the LDL receptor; polyunsaturated vegetable oils increase the number of LDL receptors.
- HCV depresses immunity by sequestering zinc and selenium; these minerals are most easily absorbed from fatty foods like meat, seafood and Brazil nuts; their absorption is inhibited by most grains and legumes.