Rich Roll on Self-Transformation, Environmental Impact of Food, and the Plant-Based Diet

Rich Roll on Self-Transformation, Environmental Impact of Food, and the Plant-Based Diet

August 1, 2019 100 By William Morgan


[Rhonda]: Hello, my friends.
I’m sitting here with the vegan endurance
athlete, Rich Roll, who many of you may have
heard of because he’s been on “The Joe Rogan
Experience” a couple of times.
He also hosts a popular health podcast known
as “The Rich Roll Podcast.”
Rich is very interesting.
He is a vegan, as I mentioned.
And he’s also the first man to have completed
running five Ironman-like triathlons in under
a week on five different Hawaiian islands,
which is pretty awesome physical feat, accomplishment.
You’ve also run something called the Ultraman,
which I’m not too familiar with, but you can
tell us about.
So Rich, we’re really excited to have you
here.
I kinda wanted to start off by asking you
how long you’ve been a vegan and why did you
decide to become a vegan?
That’s a pretty strict diet.
[Rich]: Yeah.
It was…First of all, thanks for having me.
And thanks for coming all the way out to my
house to do this.
I’ve been looking forward to this for a long
time.
To answer your question, I just turned 49.
So I transitioned to a vegan diet shortly
after my 40th birthday.
So it took me about six or eight months before
I got fully 100% plant-based, but I began
this journey because when I was 39 and kind
of approaching my 40th birthday, I was living
the typical life of kind of an overworked,
overstressed corporate attorney, sedentary,
classic couch potato.
I was about 50 pounds overweight.
You know, I was never like morbidly obese.
I was never somebody that like Jillian Michaels
would yell at on a TV show or anything like
that, but just heavy and like dense.
And at the same time, I was kinda depressed
and unenthusiastic about my life.
So I guess I was having a little bit of a
spiritual crisis at the same time that my
health was starting to kind of ail.
And I basically was subsisting on the standard
American diet, a lot of fast food, late nights
at the law firm, Chinese takeout and just
basically whatever was in front of me to eat
and whatever was most convenient.
And it all kinda came to a head shortly before
my 40th birthday when I had come home late
one night, working late.
My family was asleep.
And I was making my way up the staircase right
here to go to my bedroom.
And I had to pause like half way up the flight
of stairs.
I was winded, out of breath, tightness in
my chest.
You know, I was like buckled over and kind
of sweat on my brow and really the fear of
God.
Like I thought I was on the precipice of having
a heart attack, you know.
And I was 39 years old.
And I just thought in that moment…It was
just one of those moments that everything
kinda crystallized for me.
And I was like, “I can’t keep living this
way.
This is ridiculous.”
And it was similar…You know, a big part
of my story is I’m also a recovering alcoholic.
And when I was 31, I had that kind of moment
of clarity that you hear about with people
that are in recovery where I decided to finally
get sober.
And I went to rehab.
And that’s a whole other story, but there
was that moment in time where I decided like,
“This is the day that I’m gonna get sober.”
And it changed my life so dramatically in
every conceivable way.
And the moment on the staircase was kind of
a similar moment.
Like I felt that sense of urgency and more
importantly perhaps like the willingness to
do something about it.
And I was able to kinda recognize that that’s
a special thing, like that’s a precious thing,
and that I needed to act on that and I needed
to act on it kinda decisively and swiftly
and specifically, or it would just pass.
And the idea of saying, “Well maybe I should
eat better or go to the gym,” like just weren’t
specific enough.
Those things didn’t really mean anything to
me.
And maybe I’m a drama queen, but I felt like
I had to do something dramatic to kinda really
shift the energy and kind of wipe the slate
clean and start fresh.
And that was really the beginning of what
I didn’t realize at the time would ultimately
lead to eating a plant-based diet.
For the next six months, I did a juice cleanse.
And that was like an amazing experience.
It was terrible at first, but after a week
of doing nothing but drinking vegetable juice,
I’d never gone a day, like 24 hours, in my
whole life without eating solid food.
So I felt like that was like a really severe
thing to do to kind of like shift my perspective
and my energy.
And the last two days of that experience,
I felt like this crazy resurgence in vitality.
And it really was a moment in which I realized
that what you put into your body really does
impact how you feel.
Like I never really thought about that before.
And that kind of encouraged me to look more
deeply into a way of eating that could allow
me to feel that good all the time because,
of course, you can’t just drink vegetable
juice for the rest of your life.
And then it was a process of self-experimentation
really for the next six months.
I kind of played around with a vegetarian
diet, but I was eating pretty much a junk
food vegetarian diet and kind of took that
all the way to the wall and wasn’t losing
any weight, wasn’t feeling any better.
I just thought, “What would happen if I got
rid of all the animal products and all this
processed junk that I’m eating?
You know, I wonder if that would make a difference.”
And I kind of took a leap of faith and tried
that.
And literally within 7 to 10 days of making
that switch, I felt like an entirely different
person.
And I was doing it…
I didn’t go to a library and get a bunch of
books.
I didn’t watch a bunch of documentaries.
Like I would have saved a lot of time, I’m
sure, and done things more intelligently,
had I done that.
It was really just feeling it out for myself
experientially.
And, ultimately, that’s kind of what led me
to eating plant-based and realizing that it
agreed with me.
It kinda set the stage for everything that
came after.
[Rhonda]: So really the start of it was more
of a selfish reason to get healthy.
And then once…And I completely agree with
you about the dramatic change.
I think that some people really work that
way where it’s like, if you’re gonna commit
to something, like you want it to be like
something that you feel is going to be more
of a challenge that’s really gonna change
your life around instead of just this little
tiny step, which in some cases can help, but
I think that I was just kind of interested
why you chose the vegetarian way to get healthy.
[Rich]: I’ve thought about that question.
And it certainly didn’t originate as coming
from a place of ethics or like wanting to
be more compassionate towards animals.
It was very much revolved around like my own
personal health.
And I think that I latched onto vegetarianism
because it seemed like such a black and white
thing.
And as somebody who is in recovery, what you
learn very early on is like you’re either
drinking or using drugs or you’re not.
Like there’s no middle ground.
You can’t like kinda drink if you’re an alcoholic,
like, you just can’t.
And that kinda black and white approach, I
just sorta took that and laid that template
upon diet.
And vegetarianism seemed like an analog to
that in certain respects because there was
a simple rule, which was you don’t eat meat,
right?
So I was like okay, I could wrap my head around
that and sort of apply these principles of
recovery and the kind of tools that I had
learned to get sober to my approach to food.
And so I think perhaps maybe even unconsciously,
that’s why that seemed like an attractive
easy thing to do.
Like it took the decision fatigue out of it.
Like, “Okay.
I’m just not gonna eat meat.”
And that was the first step.
And then it was, “Okay.
I’m not gonna eat dairy.
And then I’m not gonna eat all this processed
stuff, which just gets into a little bit more
of a gray area, but I think that’s initially
what led me to it because it just seemed so
concrete in that regard.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
How long did it actually take you to lose
that 50 extra pounds?
Like was that…You mentioned feeling good
immediately and not this, a whole host of
possibilities that could be, why that is,
one being you’re now…Your gut bacteria,
you’re getting more fiber, all the plant stuff
where you’re having less inflammation, inflammation’s
affecting brain function and depression and
all those things.
And it’s cool to hear that you can experience
those mood changes so quickly.
I’m really interested in helping family members
that I care about that are not healthy that
have that struggle with depression.
And it’s hard for me.
It’s hard for me to convince them that you…Like
I have all the science in the world.
And I fire it all the time at them, study
after study, showing how connected mood and
brain function is to what you’re putting in
your body.
And it just doesn’t register.
[Rich]: Yeah.
The gap between like information and action
is vast.
And if you can bridge that gap, then you have
the keys to the kingdom, but that’s where
the hard work is.
And you cannot compel somebody to be willing.
That willingness has to be self-generated.
In my own experience, the only thing that’s
ever sort of gotten me to address or change
any of my errant behavior patterns is pain
really.
I mean, I was in enough pain where I was willing
to like do something drastic and make that
change.
Had I not been in that pain, I don’t know
that I could have.
I think that that possibility to make a change
always exists, but trying to light that spark
and get somebody to do it is very difficult,
but I think that you mentioned the microbiome.
And I think that’s a powerful kind of entry
point for a lot of people because if you,
especially in the diet context, if you just
start propagating your plate with a lot more
sort of nutrient-dense plant-based foods and
foods that are high in phytonutrients and
the like, that’s going to repopulate your
microbiome.
And I’m sure you know much more about this
than I, but there are these studies that show
this link, this connection, between the quality
of your gut flora and the cravings that you
have.
Like literally the signals that are being
sent from the microbiome that’s hijacking
quite literally your central nervous system
to trigger these impulses to get you to feed
yourself in a certain way that’s going to
nourish that microbiome in a certain way.
So if you’re eating McDonald’s all the time,
then that’s what you’re gonna crave, but if
you replace that slowly, even at first, with
different kinds of foods, then you’re gonna
shift not only your habits, but your cravings
will come afterwards.
And I found that to be kind of a very powerful
thing to do.
So instead of focusing on what you’re not
gonna eat, why don’t you focus on adding more
of the things that are good and allowing that
kind of gut population to morph accordingly?
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
That’s awesome.
I’m the same way.
I like to focus on what you should eat, what
you need, what your body needs the precursors
that you need to function optimally.
You know, all those things are really important,
but you’re mentioning the pain that you were
in, and the pain being that trigger for that
willingness to want to make a change.
What I find is very interesting is that you…
a lot of people will take pain and seek out
pharmacological means of treating the pain
instead of saying, “This pain…There’s a
reason I have this pain.
There’s something causing it.
What’s causing it?
I need to stop doing that.
I need to figure it out and change my lifestyle.”
How do you think that you were able to take
that path because that’s the path that should
be taken.
I mean, you’re a success story, right?
I mean…
[Rich]: Well, I think that, I mean, that’s
a psychological and cultural problem as much
as anything else because in our society it’s
sort of like diagnose and prescribe.
Like, “Oh, you’re feeling this pain?
Well, take this and that pain will go away.”
And we don’t even get into the discussion
of what’s causing that in the first place.
So I think ultimately to get behind that and
to really get into a place of the willingness
to address the underlying cause and work through
that, again that takes a sort of mental constitution,
again, willingness to even have the desire
to do that, but I think also it’s really an
internal job.
Like, for me, it’s as much a spiritual journey
as much as anything else.
And I think that when you’re experiencing
pain, whether it’s emotional, mental, or physical,
it’s a signal.
It’s a signal for you to sort of face a lesson
and work through something.
And you can either take a pill and ignore
that, in which case it’s going to recur and
probably escalate, or you can embrace it and
say, “What is the lesson here that I need
to learn for myself,” whether it’s a physical
thing, a diet thing, or a relationship thing
or an emotional thing?
I think it’s all the same in that regard.
And again, in my own personal case it was
a situation in which I was in enough pain
where I realized like, “I need to get behind
this and get to the cause of what is making
me not only look the way that I look like
overweight and everything, but also feeling
the way that I’m feeling.”
Like I didn’t want to be depressed.
And like I was living in this house.
Look around.
Like I have nothing to…You know, I had everything…Looking
out on my life from the outside in, I had
no reason not to be anything but completely
grateful for everything in my life.
I live an amazing life, but inside, I felt
like I was dying and I was living the wrong
life for myself.
So I think that was as much of the sort of
flame that was burning as like, “Oh, I need
to lose weight.”
You know, like losing weight wasn’t…It wasn’t
really about losing weight.
It was about trying to feel more connected
to my own life.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
So once you actually decided to make this
change and you started to notice these positive
benefits on your mood and the way you felt
and obviously behaviors probably started to
change along with that, then you decided to
kinda go full force.
And you’re now gonna be vegan for almost a
decade.
And not only that, you’ve taken on these amazing
physical feats.
I mean, you started to get into endurance
training.
And how did that start?
[Rich]: Well, what happened was when I was
sort of new into this plant-based way of living
and eating, I suddenly had so much energy
that I literally had trouble just focusing
and sitting still.
Like my knee was going like this.
And I was like literally vibrating.
And I started going outside to exercise for
the first time really with any consistency
in well over a decade, initially just because
I had to burn off all this added vitality
that I felt was like running through my system.
I didn’t have any desire to return to becoming
a competitive athlete, but what happened was
the more that I did that, the more I just
felt connected to myself again.
Like well, there’s all these amazing trails
around here.
And I’d never explored any of them.
And I was just sort of feeling like I was
connecting with my body in a way that I hadn’t
in a very long time.
Like I was a swimmer as a kid.
I swam in high school.
I swam in college.
And that brought me so much joy.
And in our culture, it’s sorta like, “All
right.
Well, you did that in college, but now you’re
an adult.
And we don’t do these things anymore.”
And that just door shuts, but I was like,
“This feels good.
You know, like I like this.
Just because I’m 40, does that mean that I
can’t do this anymore?”
And I listened to your interview with Wim
Hof.
And he said something similar.
Like he said that he knew like when he jumped
in the cold water like this was his thing.
You know, like he knew.
And people were saying, “Oh, you should be
a doctor or you should be a carpenter or all
these sorts of things with your life.”
And he’s like…He had the sort of spiritual
wherewithal to go, “That’s not for me.
Like I don’t know what my path is gonna be,
but it’s gonna be totally different.”
And so I think there was some of that sense
in myself.
And I just became so struck by the incredible
resilience of the human body because I’d abused
myself with drugs and alcohol and a stressful
job and terrible lifestyle habits and a fast
food diet for so many years.
And literally within a period of a few months,
I felt like a different person, right?
And so with that, I started to think about
human potential, you know.
And like, again, to Wim Hof, he’s talking
about the ability of the human body to do
things that defy everything these scientists
said was possible.
And I started to think about what I was capable
of.
And because I had bounced back in such a dramatic
way, it kind of led me to this…You know,
I started to think about challenging myself,
like, “What are my capabilities?”
Like if I could rebound so quickly, what if
I took myself and tested myself to my ultimate
limits?
Like what could I do?
And I think in part that was informed a little
bit by this idea that I don’t really feel
like I ever reached my potential as a swimmer
when I was in college and feeling like I had
unfinished business there.
So that’s what led me into the world of ultra-endurance.
Like I just became fascinated with these crazy
races and these people that were doing things
that I just didn’t even think were humanly
possible.
And I just felt magnetized by it and just
like a tractor beam was drawing me into that
world.
And I read an article about this race called
Ultraman that I’d never heard of before.
Most people know what an Ironman is but Ultraman
is essentially a double Ironman distance triathlon
that over three days circumnavigates the big
island of Hawaii.
And it’s a very cool race.
It’s been around for over 30 years at this
point, but it kinda slides under the radar.
There’s no media attention.
There’s no prize money.
They don’t even shut the roads off for the
cycling or the running.
And it’s limited to just 35 athletes every
year.
And it seemed like what Ironman probably was
like in 1980 when it first began like very
pure into its roots.
And these athletes were doing it really just
to have this like kind of journey that transcended
the M-Dot and getting the tattoo of the Ironman
on your ankle or whatever.
I don’t know.
It just really intrigued me.
And there was something that clicked inside
of me.
And I just thought, “I’m gonna find a way
to do that race.”
[Rhonda]: So you said it’s like double Ironman.
So what’s the distance, just like your…
[Rich]: Yeah.
So day one, you do a 6.2 mile swim.
And then you get out of the water.
It’s a point-to-point ocean swim.
And then you get on your bike and you ride
90 miles, the last 20 of which is up to Volcano
National Park.
It’s this crazy 20-mile climb with headwinds.
It’s like insane.
Then you go to sleep.
It’s a stage race, kind of like Tour de France.
Like you do a stage.
You go to bed.
You wake up the next day.
The second day, you ride your bike 171 miles.
And then the third day, you celebrate the
whole thing by running 52.4 miles.
[Rhonda]: What?
[Rich]: A double marathon back.
And you end up where you started.
So it’s crazy, right?
[Rhonda]: Totally, like…
[Rich]: So when I first read about it I was
like, “Can people do that?”
Like it seemed amazing to me.
[Rhonda]: And you’ve done that.
[Rich]: And something I wanted to be part
of.
Yeah.
So I did that race in 2008 when I was 42.
So that would have been two years after sort
of adopting the plant-based diet.
And I did it in 2009 and also in 2011.
[Rhonda]: So you’ve done it three times.
[Rich]: Yeah.
The third time didn’t go so well.
I DNF’d on the second day.
I was like spitting out blood.
And I had like a respiratory infection.
So I had to drop out, but my best performance
was in 2009.
[Rhonda]: So training for it, diet, getting
back to the vegan aspect of it.
Most people would think “Vegans.
Wow.
Wouldn’t they…They don’t get enough certain
micronutrient deficiencies, iron or protein,
things like that.”
So can you talk a little bit about how conscientious
you are of what you’re eating and your levels
of certain micronutrients and…
[Rich]: Yeah, sure.
I don’t overcomplicate it.
Like I get…People send me these emails all
the time like, “Tell me your ratio of this
to that.”
And I’m like, “I don’t even think…”
You know, like it’s very simple.
Like I eat a lot of whole plant-based foods
as close to their natural state as possible.
That’s like general rule number one.
And when I was beginning to train, like I
was just listening to my body and trying to
meet its needs as I saw fit in the moment.
So I wasn’t following some kind of recipe
or guide, but essentially I start my day usually
with a Vitamix smoothie that’s…
[Rhonda]: Highfive.
Yeah.
[Rich]: Yeah.
It starts with a base of dark leafy greens.
Like it always starts with that, so spinach,
kale, things like that, chard.
And from there it kind of builds pre-workout,
beets, beet greens are always good, and berries
blackberries, blueberries, berries with high
antioxidants, maybe some apple or orange,
and then some of the more exotic superfoods,
hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, pepitas, which
are high in iron.
You know, that’s one thing everyone worries
about your iron levels.
So I make sure I eat seeds that are high in
iron.
And I keep it simple.
Like I have four kids.
We’re busy.
We’re doing a million things.
I open up the fridge in the morning.
I don’t know what I’m gonna find, you know.
So a lot of times it’s just improvising with
what we have.
And I usually find though that gets me out
of the door in the morning before my morning
workout.
If I’m really hungry, some gluten-free toast
with almond butter or something like that
is fine.
And then I’m good.
You know, I can go out and I train.
I come back, you know.
I’ll drink the second half of that smoothie
or make a different one.
I’ll supplement with some plant-based protein
powders, but I don’t…Like I’ve had a whole
journey with supplements.
And we can get into that.
You know, I don’t overdo it with that at all.
You know, when I first began, I was so worried
about all of these things like, “Oh, you’re
gonna be deficient in all these things.”
And I had all kinds of crazy supplements.
And over the years, I’ve kinda weaned myself
off of those and thought, “You know, do I
really need these?
Are these really working?
And am I spending my money, responsibly?”
And I found that for the most part, I don’t
need most of those things that I thought that
I did, including protein powder.
Like I really don’t even do that much of that.
Lunch is usually a huge salad with lots of
raw vegetables in it or perhaps like quinoa
and beans.
I eat lots of beans, lots of black beans,
beans of different kinds, lentils, quinoa
things that are sort of plant-based foods
that are higher in protein content than other
plant-based foods.
[Rhonda]: Lentils are really higher in iron,
as well.
[Rich]: Yeah.
You can go to Trader Joe’s and they have packets
of like pre-cooked lentils.
[Rhonda]: Oh really?
[Rich]: Sometimes they’re just like they’re
$2, you know.
So I go in there and like and just grab those
for lunch for a quick snack.
You know, veggie burritos.
My wife’s an amazing cook, so she’s made it
a lot easier.
[Rhonda]: Is your whole family vegan?
[Rich]: Yeah, our whole family is now.
And that’s been a journey in its own right
with the kids and everything like that, but
now they are.
It wasn’t always that way, but yeah.
I mean, I keep it really basic.
I don’t overthink things.
You know, when I’m training and I’m going
out on a long ride, I try to bring a lot of
whole foods with me or know places where I
can stop to pick up bananas.
Dates are always good.
Almond butter, again, or maybe like an almond
butter sandwich I’ll bring with me in my back
pocket, liquid nutrition in the form of like
a maltodextrin.
You can get like 900 calories in one bottle,
things like that.
[Rhonda]: So what about like vitamin D?
Is that something that you…
[Rich]: I don’t really worry about vitamin
D. And I get my levels, my blood checked and
everything.
My vitamin D is fine, but I’m outdoors training
a lot.
So I would imagine that that takes care of
itself by exposure to the sunlight.
I do supplement with vitamin B12, but a lot
of the foods that I eat too are also vitamin
B12 fortified.
So I don’t get too crazy worried about that
either.
And my B12 levels are fine.
[Rhonda]: So you obviously have the luxury
of living in southern California.
You’re still young.
You have lighter skin.
So there’s a lot of things that regulate the
ability of your body to produce vitamin D
from UVB radiation from the sun.
Are there other vegetarians or vegans that
sort of come to you for a template or a guide?
And do you like have anything that you can
tell them usually?
Like, because it can be a problem for vegetarians,
vegans.
[Rich]: I think deficiencies are a problem
for everyone.
And I think it’s endemic especially since
like our soils are being progressively depleted
and the foods maybe aren’t quite as nutrient-dense
as they used to be.
And so I think I encourage everybody to go
get their blood checked and see where they’re
at with everything because it is such an individual
thing.
And if you are in a northern climate or a
place where you’re not gonna get a lot of
sunlight, of course vitamin D can become a
problem, and you should supplement.
So I’m not against supplements, but I think
that the approach should always be that they’re
supplements.
They should supplement the diet that you’re
eating, right?
They shouldn’t come in the place of the food.
But I think that if you’re deficient or you’re
prone to one of those kinds of deficiencies,
of course, I think it’s appropriate.
I don’t know that vegans and vegetarians have
a higher incidence of vitamin D deficiency
than anybody else.
You may know more about that than I do.
[Rhonda]: Vitamin D inadequacy is pretty prevalent
in the United States.
Around 70% of the population doesn’t have
what’s considered to be adequate levels.
It’s not quite deficient.
Deficiency versus inadequacy, there’s a little
difference, but I don’t know if vegetarians
or vegans and/or if they take the supplemental
vitamin D3 form, which is commonly, it’s from
lanolin, which is excreted from like the sebaceous
glands of sheep when they’re making wool.
Is that something you would take or is that
like against the vegan rules?
Like, because I don’t know if the sheep get
harmed or anything.
[Rich]: Right.
Yeah, I don’t know.
I don’t know enough about that.
I probably wouldn’t take that.
So I would…You know, I try to make sure
that whatever I am taking in is vegan in its
origin.
[Rhonda]: So it can’t come from animals, even
if the animal’s not dying or…
[Rich]: Well, yeah.
I mean, I would have to know specifically
in each instance how that works.
And the road gets narrower.
You know what I mean?
Like certain things you used to do, then I’m
like…Because it’s different for me now.
Like it’s been an evolution.
And I think that this is kind of an important
point, which is there is this idea that certain
people out there are like struck vegan overnight.
I don’t know anybody for whom that is the
case.
Like for everybody, it’s a journey, you know.
It’s something that you evolve into, if you’re
inclined or if that’s something that interests
you.
You know, so the things that I’m sort of focused
on now are different than they were in 2008
or when I began.
So for me, I’ve become a lot more interested
in other aspects of this lifestyle that originally
weren’t that interesting to me.
And that’s a whole other discussion, but so,
and now also I’m sort of this ambassador of
vegan athletes in some regard, for better
or worse.
So I think it’s important for me to kind of
hold that space and to say like, “Yeah, I
can do it without all these things.
So you can too.”
So I can go out and be 100% vegan, 100% plant-based,
and not ingest any animal products in to my
diet and do these crazy endurance races as
just a point of contradiction to conventional
wisdom so that other people can look at that
and infer from that as they wish.
[Rhonda]: Do you think that’s a…It seems
that vegan, you know…Veganism obviously,
you are proving that for endurance, at least,
training, that it’s very possible to be a
competitive endurance athlete and be a vegan,
back to your…You seem to have some sort
of advantage, in some cases.
A lot of endurance training, it’s…What’s
interesting is that endurance trainers become
adapted to oxidizing fat for energy.
And I don’t know.
Maybe a vegan diet may kind of go along with
that, but do you think that someone who’s
say let’s say like say your typical CrossFit
guy doing the Olympic lifts and burpees are…You
know, like it’s a little different than an
endurance athlete.
Do you think they would also do well with
a vegan diet, or do you think those are sort
of different?
[Rich]: Certainly, there are different kinds
of athletes, but I don’t see any reason why
not.
I’ve seen vegan athletes do amazing things
in all kinds of different kinds of disciplines.
And I was in Germany last week.
And I got a chance to sit down with this friend
of mine named Patrik Baboumian, who is a Strongman
athlete, a vegan Strongman athlete, who lives
in Germany.
He set a Guinness Book of World Records in
Toronto in two…It was about two years ago.
I was there.
I witnessed it.
It was incredible.
It’s called the Yoke.
And he carried 550 kilograms, which is like
1,200 pounds, for 10 meters.
So he had this giant contraption with all
the plates on it, lifted it up, and like walked
10 meters with it.
It’s the most insane thing I’ve ever seen.
He’s vegan.
I just did a podcast with him when I was in
Germany.
And he then re-broke it again with a little
bit more added weight.
And he’s trying for another record now.
And he says that he got stronger when he went
vegan.
So the reason that he thinks that he has improved,
and it’s similar to my own reasons, is that
first of all, you’re eating high…What’s
the word?
High nutrient gain, high nutrient density
with a high nutrient gain, foods that are
very dense nutritionally, but are also very
easily assimilated and also very anti-inflammatory
in general.
Like when you compare kind of the standard
Western diet or a diet that’s high in meat
and dairy, it can be very acidic and, in turn,
produce a lot of inflammation.
And as you know, and we can get into this.
You know a lot more about this than I do,
but that inflammation will impede recovery.
So the more kind of like alkaline your diet
is, the more you kind of reduce that inflammation
and can enhance or expedite the recovery process,
which allows you to train harder, push yourself
harder, and go longer and all these things
that extrapolated out over the course of a
season or a year or a number of years can
translate into performance gains.
But I’m interested in your perspective on
that.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
No, I’m not sure if it’s the…I don’t think
the mechanism is the alkaline thing.
I think that’s a little not really scientifically
shown, but there is evidence that for one,
when you’re eating a more plant-based diet,
you are…which I eat a very heavily plant-based
diet.
I’m not a vegetarian.
I’m not a vegan.
I also eat a lot of fish and chicken and not
really red meat, once in a while, but when
you do eat a plant-based diet, you’re getting
a lot of fiber, for one.
So your gut is a lot healthier.
Your gut bacteria like fiber.
And the major source of inflammation in your
body is your gut.
Your gut actually…
[Rich]: That’s interesting.
[Rhonda]: So when you feed your gut fiber,
there’s certain bacteria in your gut that
metabolize the fiber into certain components
and compounds.
Some of them are called short-chain fatty
acids.
There’s other compounds, as well.
These compounds are actually signaling molecules
that actually totally regulate your immune
system.
So they will make more anti, basically immune
cells that prevent your own immune cells from
attacking your own tissues.
So they’re called T-regulatory cells, and
they regulate autoimmunity.
They make…You basically increase hematopoiesis,
and you make more blood cells.
You’re making more red blood cells, which
is relevant for endurance athletes.
You’re making more of the good type of T cells,
natural killer T cells.
You’re making less of the T cells that are
causing inflammation.
So having a more plant-based diet absolutely
does affect inflammation, but I don’t think
it’s through that alkaline pathway.
[Rich]: Right.
Right.
That’s interesting.
I mean, the thing that I’ve kind of experienced
myself and I’ve heard from so many athletes,
CrossFit athletes, strength athletes speed
and agility athletes, is that they can train
really hard.
They don’t get as sore, or sore at all.
And they’re able to bounce back much more
quickly.
And they’re less likely to miss out on training
because of overtraining or injury or illness.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
One thing that affects recovery is inflammation.
For one, when your gut’s healthy, and it is
a lot easier to get a healthy gut, you know.
I know a lot of people that eat meat out there.
I’m not saying meat’s bad.
I’m just saying that your gut likes fiber.
It likes fiber.
I mean, it’s as simple as that.
It likes it because it metabolizes it into
something that regulates your immune system.
And that’s scientifically proven.
It’s been shown in dozens of studies.
You know, it’s pretty much consensus.
[Rich]: And we don’t talk enough about fiber.
Most people are walking around fiber-deficient,
but they’re obsessed with protein.
And really, protein deficiency really just
isn’t a thing anybody should be worried about,
but you should be worried about your fiber
intake.
[Rhonda]: Agreed, I totally…
[Rich]: And we just don’t…That should be
much more a part of the conversation, I think
than it is.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
It’s something that I think is a real strength
of having more a vegetarian like diet is the
amount of fiber you’re taking in.
It’s part of the reason why I have such a
heavy plant-based diet is because not only
talking about the performance gains that you
get by making sure your immune system is the
best it can be, so you’re making more anti-inflammatory
cytokines.
What does that mean?
Well, it means when you’re exercising and
you’re working out really hard, you’re causing
inflammation, because that’s part of what
exercise does.
It causes inflammation.
So you’re getting that inflammation, but you
immediately have this anti-inflammatory response.
And it happens sooner.
So it’s not…, you’re basically not gonna
have your immune system then spiral out of
control where then it starts to damage your
muscle tissue because you have that counter,
anti-inflammatory counter, sooner than someone
who doesn’t have a good diet, who’s basically
immune system is not being regulated well.
And it does really happen at the level of
the gut.
The gut is very important for your immune
system.
And that’s something that scientists are now
starting to realize.
And it’s making its way now into the popular
media and also into the general public.
So I think that’s something extremely important
is gut health.
And like I said, not only for performance
gains, but also for longevity, because inflammation
has been identified as a driver of the aging
process.
Normal aging, just living every day, our cells
metabolizing carbohydrates or fat, whatever
it is we’re giving it to make energy, that
whole process of breathing in oxygen and eating
food to make energy, causes damage.
It’s inherent.
You can’t avoid it.
If you want to live, you’re gonna damage your
cells.
It’s just gonna happen.
And inflammation accelerates that process.
It causes more damage.
And the major source of inflammation in the
body is the gut.
Not only because it regulates the immune system,
but also because it is where we have all the
bacteria.
It’s where our largest concentration of immune
cells actually are.
So when we start to have an unhealthy gut,
when the gut barrier breaks down for several
different reasons, then our immune cells go
crazy, start firing cytokines, which are inflammatory,
you know.
So anyways, I think that’s one really major
strength about a plant-based diet is the fiber.
And the other thing is that if you look at
vegetarians, they tend to have…There are
certain micronutrient deficiencies that are
common.
You mentioned vitamin B12, which is one.
B12 is found…It’s more highly concentrated
in animal meat.
[Rich]: Well, I mean, it used to be…I mean,
really, it’s…Correct me if I’m wrong, but
isn’t vitamin B12 a microorganism that propagates
in the soil?
And so it used to be that even if you were
just eating plants, like they weren’t washed
off, they weren’t as sort of sanitized as
they are now, and you could get your B12 that
way, but now our soils are so depleted, so
now it’s kind of become a thing?
I mean, I sort of resist this contention or
this argument that like a vegan diet is, by
definition, sort of a deficient diet because
you have to supplement with B12.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
Okay.
So it’s not a microorganism, but it’s made
by microorganisms.
So microorganisms, including in our gut, make
it.
And guess what?
Fiber…Actually, I’ve done…
[Rich]: Animals have it because they’re eating…basically,
their noses are in the dirt all day.
[Rhonda]: I don’t know exactly why all the
animals have it, but that…Yeah, that would
make sense.
Okay.
So I don’t think plant-based diets or like
vegan diets are like inherently micronutrient
deficiency.
In fact, if you look at the data, many different
vegetarians and vegans have more of certain
micronutrients like folate, Vitamin K, magnesium.
I mean, these are all…You know, Vitamin
C, Vitamin E, vegans and vegetarians have
a much higher concentration of these very
important micronutrients.
Vitamin K is extremely important.
Magnesium, half the country doesn’t get enough
of.
You know, so I don’t think by definition a
plant-based or vegan or vegetarian diet is
a nutritionally deficient diet.
I think there’s certain ones they have to
make sure they’re getting.
And there’s certain ones they’re getting more
of than other people that aren’t getting enough
of these, eating enough vegetables.
So it really just depends.
It’s like, well, some people…You know, vegans
do have to get a little more B12.
They have to get a little bit more iron, but
you know, lentils are high in iron.
There’s a lot of…If you just know and think
about what you need to eat, you can get your
zinc from cashews.
Cashews are higher in iron.
Lentils are higher in iron.
I mean, you can find plant-based nuts and
seeds and things that are good sources of
these micronutrients that you don’t get if
you’re not getting the meat, but if you’re
eating a lot of meat, you’re not eating a
lot of…if you’re eating processed foods
and meat, and you’re not getting enough vegetables,
guess what?
You’re gonna be deficient in a lot more micronutrients,
to be honest.
So I think that it’s just a matter of knowing
which ones and making sure you’re getting
dietary source of them, making sure if you’re
not getting a dietary source, that you are
taking a B12.
And back to the B12, our gut bacteria make
it.
And there are certain gut bacteria that when
you like, for example, when you take antibiotics,
which are loaded in meat, and that, we can
get to that in a minute, but you kill off
a lot of your own bacteria that make B12.
So there’s the whole well, you want to have
your gut healthy.
Well, how do you get your gut healthy?
You give it the right components.
You give it the fiber.
The gut likes fiber.
It really likes fiber and it likes anything
that’s gonna allow it to make short-chain
fatty acids, which are actually essentially
what fuel all the gut cells inside your intestine
that line your intestine, fuel it.
They prefer short-chain fatty acids as their
source of energy over anything else.
So glucose, anything.
They want these short-chain fatty acids.
And how do they get them?
Fiber.
So there’s that.
And that’s one thing that vegetarians do get
a lot of fiber.
And I myself make a very, you know…I make
an effort to make sure I’m getting enough
fiber.
And I eat a lot of plants, a broad spectrum
of them, different colors.
I make something very similar every morning,
chard, spinach.
I always have the green base where it’s spinach
and chard and kale and a carrot, tomato, and
some berries and different variations of it.
I like the chia seeds and hemp seeds because
you’re also getting some of the Omega-3s.
[Rich]: The Omega-3s, yeah.
[Rhonda]: You know, which by the way, that’s
another thing that certain…That can be a
problem for some vegetarians and vegans is
because there are three types of Omega-3,
right, alpha-linolenic acid, which is ALA,
eicosapentaenoic acid, which is EPA, which
is a major marine source, right, is how you
get EPA, and DHA, docosahexaenoic acid.
And EPA and DHA are very important for combating
inflammation, but also for every cell structure.
You need DHA for every cell membrane, particularly
in your brain.
So you can convert ALA into those, but it’s
not very efficient.
Women can do it much better because estrogen…At
least pre-menopausal women can do it much
better, because estrogen activates the enzyme
that converts it into it, but…And there’s
gene polymorphisms, which are variations in
sequence of DNA, which changes the function,
or changes the function of the gene, in a
way.
So some people have ones that they can’t convert
ALA into EPA and DHA very well.
So you really have to measure something, get
your levels tested.
[Rich]: Yeah.
How do you know if you’re one of those though
or not?
[Rhonda]: Well, you can do a genetic test.
23andMe measures them.
So they look at those gene polymorphisms.
You know, it’s something that’s…It used
to be $99.
They just raised the price to $199.
Those bastards.
[Rich]: Yeah, but they’re now free and clear.
They’ve cleared up all their issues with the
FDA.
[Rhonda]: Some of them, yeah.
So now they’re only gonna…So basically,
they had stopped giving health reports.
So they would be…You could test for your
gene polymorphisms.
And then they would interpret the data for
you and say, “Okay.
This is what this means for,” hundreds of
them.
But now they’re only gonna do 36 major diseases.
So you still…You know, you’re gonna get
some information from them, but there are
other sources out there that have tools like
Promethease, which allow you to interpret
the data, if you don’t know anything.
It’s like $5.
And it tells you kinda what your data means.
And then they delete it after like 40 days
or something, so it’s kind of secure.
[Rich]: Oh, wow.
Interesting.
That’s cool.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
I’ll send you…I made a video on it and I
have a PDF where I kind of explain it, if
you’re interested.
[Rich]: Yeah.
Cool.
[Rhonda]: But that’s one way.
And then the other way would be to get your
blood levels of Omega-3.
And you can measure EPA and DHA.
If you’re eating a boat load of chia seeds
and flax seeds and all these walnuts and good
sources of ALA, and yet you’re still like
very low levels of EPA and DHA, that might
be a sign that you may have one of those.
[Rich]: Yeah, interesting.
[Rhonda]: So then, genetic test would be the
next logical step, right.
But that’s also something I think that vegetarian
and vegans should consider because they’re
very important micronutrients.
They’re both very important.
So I kinda wanted to get into some of the
issues that you said now, the reason why you’re
vegan or some of the reasons why you’re vegan
have expanded and that it’s been a journey
where…And that makes sense where it’s like…I
think that if I were to become a vegan, which
I’m not, but if I were, I think that once
I started doing it, I’d want to find more
interesting reasons why I should continue
doing it.
And then you sort of seek it out.
And then if there’s enough evidence to go,
“Oh, this is a valid reason why I should,”
I’m gonna continue to do it.
So it’s sort of like validating your own lifestyle.
[Rich]: Yeah.
I think that it’s definitely evolved for me.
I mean, I think it was really an epiphany
for me to be able to perform at such a high
level in my 40s as an athlete in ways that
I never would have previously imagined that
I could and to do it on a plant-based diet,
to me, told me whether or not humans ancestrally
are omnivores or herbivores, we can dispense
with all of that because to me, I’m like,
“Well, we’re not obligate omnivores.”
At least I’m not.
You know, I know that.
And once I kind of, that realization dawned
on me, then I started to get interested in
our food system.
Like I was very, like most people, very divorced
from where our food comes from, how it’s manufactured,
distributed, etc.
You just cast a blind eye to it.
And the whole system is set up to prevent
you from really understanding it or being
in touch with it to the point where there
are ag gag laws.
It’s actually illegal to really even look
into it.
[Rhonda]: What?
[Rich]: Well, the ag gag laws that prevent
you from sort of filming what goes on in slaughterhouses
and all of that.
So I got interested in that.
And I started to learn more as I was sort
of on this journey to really understand like
how industrial agriculture works and specifically
industrialized animal agriculture.
And anybody who looks into it is gonna be
horrified.
You know, as inherently compassionate people
I think that we would all be sensitive to
this system that is…It’s a horror show,
right?
I feel terrible for the humans that have to
work in it.
And I feel terrible for the animals that suffer
as a result of it.
And it made me kind of go, “Well, why are
we even doing this?
Like I’m doing great without this.”
Like it felt like incumbent upon me to learn
more about it.
And so I got interested in that.
And that led me to be more interested in the
ethical arguments behind it, as well as the
environmental arguments behind it.
There’s a documentary that I’m involved in,
I’m a producer on, that just came out, it’s
on Netflix, called “Cowspiracy.”
Leonardo DiCaprio is an executive producer
on it.
And it’s a really a great documentary.
It’s very entertaining, as well, but it basically
takes a look at the impact of animal agriculture
on the environment.
And it’s very interesting.
And it’s an aspect of the environmental conversation
that has really gone under-addressed because
when you really canvas the biggest contributors
to global climate change we talk about transportation.
We talk about carbon emissions from all the
vehicles and the ills of that, but we never
talk about the impact of raising all these
animals for our food has on the environment.
And the truth is, is that animal agriculture
is the number one culprit when it comes to
almost every single man-made environmental
ill on the planet, everything from like species
extinction to ocean pollution to rainforest
destruction.
We’re destroying the rainforest at the rate
of like one to two acres a second.
It’s crazy.
Water usage.
Like we’re here in California.
It could not be drier out.
It’s a crisis.
As consumers we are told, we need to like
take shorter showers.
And we can’t water our lawns, but consumer
water use amounts to like 5% of all water
use.
The vast majority of water goes to animal
agriculture.
It’s crazy, not just to go to the animals,
but to raise all the crops that we’re feeding
to the animals, right?
And when you break it down, it’s like 660
gallons of water to produce a quarter pound
patty of beef and 1,000 gallons of water to
produce one gallon of milk.
So in other words, like raising animals for
food is incredibly inefficient, right?
We have to create so many resources have to
go into raising these animals for us to eat
them that it’s incredibly wasteful.
And the sort of impact of that on the environment
is incredibly deleterious.
So I got really interested in all of these
issues land use, all these sorts of things.
And when you look at swelling global population
the idea that we’re gonna hit 11 billion people
by 2100, we just can’t continue to feed the
planet the way that we’re doing it.
It’s not sustainable.
We’re destroying the planet at an unfathomable
rate.
And we’re just blind to the impact of it.
And because the meat and dairy industry is
so powerful and their lobbying efforts are
so impactful, it prevents government from
really doing anything about it.
And it prevents public awareness of these
issues that I think are really important that
we should all be considering.
So for me it’s kinda been a journey from being
very focused on performance to being more
focused on what is our kind of obligation
to the planet to live more sustainably and
more compassionately?
And when I feel myself thriving without participating
in this system, like that makes me want to
spread that message.
You know, and it feels really good to kind
of opt out of that in some regard and just
say, “You know what?
I’m not gonna participate in that.
Not only do I not have to, I actually am taking
out an insurance policy against all of these
chronic diseases that are killing people by
the millions.”
You know, you look at the health statistics.
Like 70% of people are obese or overweight.
And one out of every three people is gonna
die of a heart attack.
And they’re predicting that by 2030, 50% of
Americans are gonna be diabetic or pre-diabetic.
Like it’s insane.
You know, it’s insane that so many people
are sick.
And these lifestyle diseases are easily preventable,
and in many cases reversible through some
pretty simple diet and lifestyle alterations.
And eating plant-based is a pretty good way
to make sure that you’re not gonna succumb
to a lot of these problems that are unnecessarily
afflicting too many people.
And so when you add in like the health equation,
the environmental equation, and the ethics
of not participating in the death of all these
animals, to me it’s like, it’s a no-brainer,
you know.
You know, it’s a no-brainer to me.
And it’s amazing that by making this one simple
decision…You know, I think as consumers,
it’s very easy to feel disenfranchised, like,
“Oh, my vote doesn’t count.
It doesn’t matter who’s President.
It’s the same old thing.
It’s always gonna be the same,” but by saying,
“Okay.
I’m gonna eat plant-based,” you’re actually…That’s
a pretty profound impact on the environment.
You’re saving all this water.
You’re saving all these resources.
The carbon emissions go down.
You’re preventing yourself from becoming a
statistic to one of these health disorders.
And you’re saving animals’ lives.
Like it checks every box in my opinion.
So I just feel like that would be one thing,
if you had to suffer to do it and be some
kind of martyr, but I feel like I’m thriving
and doing great.
So I don’t feel like I’ve given anything up.
And my life has been nothing but nourished
and improved by making this decision.
[Rhonda]: I was actually reading one of your
blog posts on like the 10 best reasons to
adopt a plant-based diet.
And a lot of them were what you were just
talking about the water, the impact on CO2
emissions, all these things that I don’t usually
think about, probably because it’s so disturbing,
I don’t want to think about it.
So I started to try to find references and
looking them up, and I started to find scientific
studies stating exactly what you were saying,
you know.
And I was like, “Wow.
This is…”
You had some statistic on there that was like
if every American in the United States stopped
or just took away one serving of chicken a
week, it would be as if 500,000 cars were
taken off the road, right?
[Rich]: Right.
It’s crazy.
[Rhonda]: And to me, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m…”
First of all, I only eat like one serving
a week.
So but it seems like, “Well, yeah.
I’m gonna do that.
You know, I’m gonna make sure I don’t eat
two servings a week” because I think that’s
a pretty profound…I’ll have moments when
I’m on the highway, and I’ll see like some
like semi-bus with all the exhaust coming
out.
And I see it.
And I’m just like…It triggers something.
And I start to get really sad and depressed.
And then I imagine all the trucks and all
the cars all around the world doing it spiral
into this OCD link, but anyways, I think that
the water, as well, especially in California,
this is a huge issue.
I mean, in addition to the impacts on the
environment, which are much more profound
than I had previously known, so thank you
for that blog post because it really did…It
made me think.
And I’ll watch the documentary “Cowspiracy.”
[Rich]: Yeah, you should.
And if you go to cowspiracy.com I think it’s
/facts or they have a facts thing there, they
have all the studies.
And you can go through all of these things.
[Rhonda]: Oh, cool.
[Rich]: It’s really well laid out too.
[Rhonda]: So you have references.
[Rich]: Yeah, references for everything.
[Rhonda]: That’s what I was really looking
for, but I was able to find them.
[Rich]: Because I know you could geek out
and just go deep into that one.
[Rhonda]: Totally, yeah.
That’s what I was looking for.
I was actually going to email you.
Be like, “do you have a reference for that?”
Anyways, but the other issue is even…Let’s
say like you’re the kind of person that you’re
like, “Well, I don’t really care about the
animal welfare and well-being and all of that.”
Like some people like, they just, they don’t,
right?
The other issue is what these animals are
fed and what they’re given and then what we’re
eating, right?
[Rich]: Right.
The pesticides, the antibiotics.
It’s an absolute horror show.
[Rhonda]: Antibiotics for like…
[Rich]: Yeah, it’s crazy.
And like what about all the glyphosate that
goes into all the feed that they’re eating.
Like what is the impact of all of this and
just the confined circumstances under which
all of these animals are living the disease
and the…It’s crazy.
It’s crazy when you really think about it.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
So I was trying to think of solution.
I was people say, “Well, being a vegan is
hard work.
Being a vegetarian is hard work,” but being
an omnivore is hard work.
It’s hard work.
Health-conscientious omnivores like myself,
I…You know, we tend to try to eat meat that
unless we’re Joe Rogan and out hunting our
meat, which is ideal, you try to eat cows
that are grass-fed because you don’t want
a cow that’s given a bunch of corn or also
they’re fed like leftover body parts of like
other animals, I mean, which is disgusting.
They’re given antibiotics prophylactically.
I mean, it’s like 90% of the antibiotic use
in the United States is agriculture.
[Rich]: Modern agriculture.
Yeah, of course.
[Rhonda]: Agriculture.
And that stuff gets into our system.
And it impacts our gut microbiome.
It impacts obesity, all of these different
things.
So eating…And most Americans eat meat that
is not grass-fed.
You know, you’ve got a small percentage of
people that are like, “I need the grass-fed
meat.
I want the free-range chicken that are eating
grass and insects and not eating a bunch of
corn, getting a lot of like Omega-6 fatty
acids,” and all sorts of problems, but so
it’s hard work to be an omnivore too.
[Rich]: Right.
And also, I mean, I think, of course, eating
grass-fed is certainly better than conventionally-raised
meat, but I think it’s in some respects, it’s
an elitist solution to the problem because
we can’t feed the planet with grass-fed meat.
There’s not enough land.
So if there’s one thing that animal agriculture
does very well, industrialized animal agriculture
does very well, it’s economies of scale.
The least amount of resources to blow that
animal up into a big fat animal that you’re
gonna want to put on your plate in the shortest
amount of time.
When you’re talking about a grass-fed animal,
they’re using a lot more resources, tons more
land, tons more water.
They keep the animal alive longer.
So there’s not as much food.
And they’re eating longer.
So the amount of resources that go into that
calf are gonna exceed what is happening on
a conventionally-raised sort of cattle farm.
So it doesn’t really add up.
[Rhonda]: So it’s still not sustainable.
[Rich]: So the environment…Yeah, it’s less
sustainable actually.
And it’s weird because it’s counter-intuitive,
but when you run the numbers on it, you’re
like, “Yeah, that doesn’t…”
It makes you feel better because you feel
like you’re making a more ethical choice or
you’re doing something that sounds greener,
but it’s actually less green, which is interesting.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
So it may be healthier for the person eating
it, but it may not be healthier for the environment,
which brings me to the next thing.
[Rich]: And that’s the meta.
[Rhonda]: It is.
It is.
[Rich]: What is health?
There’s our individual health.
[Rhonda]: It’s the altruistic path.
[Rich]: Well, how healthy are we if our planet
is dying?
So there’s our individual health, like the
health of the…You know, we’re the microorganism,
and the Earth is the macroorganism, right?
So if a choice that we’re making for our own
personal health is at the expense of the greater
health of the planet in which we live and
we care about the longevity of this environment
that we live in for our children and the like,
I think that has to play into the mental calculus,
right?
And so what that means is you’re asking somebody
to kind of make a decision that perhaps is
not in their immediate sort of short-term
self-interest, which is hard.
And that gets into altruism and all that kind
of stuff, but I think it’s important to talk
about because when we talk about health, health
isn’t just the proportion of micronutrients
and phytonutrients on your plate.
It’s a much larger conversation than that.
And I think it begs the question of kind of
our scientific approach to all these things.
So you, as a scientist, and somebody who plies
the scientific method is, by its very definition,
and necessarily so, reductionist, right?
You have to take one thing, look at it, and
analyze its impact, but as you know nutrition,
health, the environment, all of these things
are a grand interplay of countless infinite
variables that all are interdependent on each
other.
So to extrapolate one and focus on that really
means sort of not really honoring the greater
picture.
And not to say that I have the solution to
that, but I think when we talk about health
and we talk about nutrition, we need to think
more “wholistically,” you know, like with
a “wh” than maybe we’re sort of inclined to
intuitively do.
[Rhonda]: That’s very interesting.
I want to talk about a possible solution in
a minute, but to get back to you were talking
about the interconnectedness between health
and nutrition, the health of our environment
and the planet there have been studies that
have shown and even more recent ones that
just came out a couple of days ago showing
that the healthier you eat, the more your
brain switches to like long-term planning.
Like you’re able to…There’s more activity
in that part of the brain that’s long-term
planning.
[Rich]: That’s interesting.
That’s super interesting.
[Rhonda]: Right.
So these things are interconnected.
And the opposite was true.
So like when you’re eating unhealthy, when
you’re eating junk food, that stuff shuts
down.
[Rich]: Yeah because you’re numbing out because
you’re eating addictively.
You’re eating to medicate, right?
You’re eating to like disconnect.
Like you’re eating to like numb yourself to
whatever is going on.
So, of course, you go into like sleep mode.
You go into like shut-down mode.
[Rhonda]: It makes it worse.
[Rich]: You don’t care about anything, right,
like what you, except “Dancing with the Stars”
or whatever is on TV.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
Okay.
So the solution.
I’m curious to get your opinion on this.
So being a scientist I’m kind of into all
this technical stuff, but we now have the
capability and capacity to grow meat in the
lab, like meat that texture-wise is meat.
It tastes like meat, but it’s grown from stem
cells.
And in the case of meat, most of the time,
it’s muscle tissue, right?
You know, there’s muscle tissue.
So you can…Scientists can take a stem cell
from a cow muscle or a moose, whatever and
without killing it, and grow it in a culture
medium that has all these types of nutrients
and growth factors that can make it become
a certain type of muscle tissue.
And then it begins to like arrange like a
tissue, and do all these things.
But ultimately there is going to be lab-grown
meat, which means…I mean, it’s kinda gross
to think about it.
It still grosses me out to like think about
it, but one, it’s gonna solve the problem
of this whole like meat agriculture industry.
I mean, it’s just…It’s non-sustainable,
like you said.
By the year 2050, there is going to be 11
million people, or 2051 or something, there’s
going to be 11 billion people, sorry.
And that’s just…We can’t feed them all.
We can’t do it.
And with all the…It’s gonna use up the resources
we have.
It’s gonna destroy our environment.
And two, you don’t have all the antibiotics
given to the animals.
You don’t have all the growth hormones.
Just all the crap that’s put in, it’s not
gonna be there, right?
So it’s gonna be lab-grown.
Would you ever try a lab-grown piece of meat?
[Rich]: That’s such an interesting question.
I haven’t really thought…It doesn’t appeal
to me at all.
[Rhonda]: It doesn’t appeal to me, and I eat
meat.
[Rich]: Yeah, it sounds weird and gross.
I applaud like technological advances to try
to solve these problems that we have to create
solutions that are more sustainable.
So I’m all about that.
You know, for me it’s like I feel like there’s
so much energy being put into kind of creating
meat analogs, but we were talking originally
about sort of symptoms and causes like getting
to the root problem like…So I think before
we even get to that issue, taking a step back
and taking a look at like why we’re so obsessed
with meat to begin with.
You know what I mean?
Like maybe we should talk about that first.
Like I feel like I have no desire to eat lab-raised
meat.
You know, it doesn’t…I don’t need it.
You know what I mean?
Like why would I eat that?
I’m doing fine the way that I am.
Why do we feel such a need that we have to
have like so much meat?
Like so let’s talk about that first.
Secondarily, I think it’s an interesting ethical
question too.
It’s like it’s animal tissue without consciousness.
So what does that mean?
It’s almost like a philosophical thing.
It’s a weird thing to wrap your head around.
And I think it’s an interesting approach to
the solution.
And I have no doubt that they’ll figure it
out in the same way they’re figuring out like
how to create hamburgers out of pea protein
that have some kind of solution in them that
actually gives it that bloody taste that meat…Like
it’s bizarre like trying to, putting all this
energy and science into creating something
that tastes exactly like something else rather
than just saying, “Well, why don’t we just
move over here where we’re growing all this
food and not worry about that rather than
trying to copy this thing?”
[Rhonda]: It’s a lot of people that like meat.
[Rich]: Yeah, I know.
They do.
They do, right?
I know.
And I think that the expectation…Like I
can’t be under the impression that everyone’s
gonna do what I’m doing.
I understand that.
Like you have to create solutions for people
that are accessible to them that are appealing
enough, like so that that veggie patty that
tastes like a hamburger is a great step to
get somebody to rethink what’s on their plate
and maybe not eat meat at every single meal
every single day as the focus of their plate.
Like I think that’s a good thing.
Ultimately I think when somebody starts to
shift and their microbiome starts to shift,
those kinds of meat analogs become less interesting,
but that’s for everybody to go on their own
path with.
[Rhonda]: Would you be happy…So you personally
wouldn’t feel compelled to be eating lab-grown
meat, but would you be happy if that was a
solution…
[Rich]: But I think to the extent…
[Rhonda]: Like knowing that it’s going to
have a better impact on the environment.
[Rich]: Of course.
Of course.
I think that’s a…Yeah, it’s…Listen.
To the extent that that can save a lot of
animals’ lives and take a step forward to
preserve our environment or move in a better
direction, like I’m supportive of that.
I still think it’s weird though.
It’s like I…
[Rhonda]: It’s really weird.
[Rich]: I have to sit with it and really think
it through.
Like I don’t know that I’ve spent enough time
really thinking deeply enough about it though.
[Rhonda]: You know, the guy that originally
came up with the theory before it was ever
even this was done was back in like the early
1900s.
I’ve forgot his name.
And then back in like the 1950s or something,
some scientist was like able to like keep
like some sort of piece of a chicken growing
in a dish for like 10 years, something crazy
where like that sort of seeded this whole
theory of, “Oh, maybe we can grow meat, you
know.”
And then stem cell technology came.
And boom.
It was just so…
[Rich]: I know.
It’s a crazy time, Rhonda Patrick.
[Rhonda]: Totally.
And these stem cells are, the muscle ones
are important for a lot of medical reasons
repairing muscle damage, muscular dystrophy,
lots of uses.
But you did bring up an interesting point.
And that is the health aspects of meat and
do we need to eat this much meat?
And I think based on the science, I don’t
think we need to focus on eating so much meat.
We need to focus on getting the plants and
getting all the right micronutrients and getting
the fiber.
And when you do that, you end up eating healthier.
And you end up not eating processed foods,
eating this really refined sugars, which are
really bad for you.
You know, you end up not eating those things,
one, because when you start to like eat healthy,
you feel, at least I do, I feel like deprived
of…Like if I go somewhere, I’m traveling,
and I can’t get all my veggies, like I usually…And
maybe I’m a little crazy, but I feel like
I’m like, “I’m like aging myself.”
I’m like, “Oh, god, I’m not getting all my
nutrients.
I need these parts to keep running, you know.”
All these different biochemical pathways in
my body, they need magnesium.
They need folate.
They need selenium.
They need all these Vitamin K. They need all
these nutrients that are found in plants.
My gut needs the fiber.
My gut really needs the fiber.
If I don’t get enough fiber, I mean, I can
tell, when I’m traveling.
So I…People in general, they don’t need
that much…You don’t need that much protein.
Obviously, if you’re like wanting to bulk
up and doing the weight training thing, then
your protein requirements are a little different,
but your goals are also different, you know.
So depending on what your goals are and with
the meat there was a study that came out…Well,
the press release came out yesterday for the
World Health Organization basically classified
processed meat as a group one carcinogen or
group one, meaning it’s got components in
it that are cancer-causing to humans.
And that’s not something that’s new.
I mean, there are dozens and dozens of studies
that have been published over the last few
decades that have shown not only correlative
data where they’re looking at people that
are eating processed meat and cancer incidence,
which is always ridden with many different
errors, I mean, because correlations never
show a causation, right.
But there’s also the mechanistic studies where
they’ve doven into what’s in the processed
meat.
And they’ve given it to animals and tried
to figure out exactly what’s going on.
And one of the major problems with processed
meats is they’re loaded with nitrites, which
are preservatives, but the problem is is that
nitrites can form nitrosamines.
It can form nitrosamines in our colon.
And also they can form nitrosamines when they’re
in contact with water and heat.
So if you’ve got some bacon that has nitrites
and you’re frying it in a frying pan and the
water, you’re forming nitrosamines, which
are carcinogenic.
So they’re mutagens, meaning when humans consume
them, they cause damage to the DNA of a cell
that’s in contact with it.
In this case of eating it, the first cells
that come in contact with it are your gut,
right, the colon.
So they basically damage the DNA in such a
way that it can lead to cancer cells.
It damages it in such a way that it can potentially
lead to cancer.
Now, there’s a lot of different factors that
are going on, depending on all the other dietary
factors in your life and lifestyle.
These are all very important, right, but these
nitrosamines are carcinogens.
That’s a fact.
And nitrites form them.
They form them in the gut, bacteria in our
guts, and also when you put them in water
and heat and things like that.
Nitrates, which people like to often use as
the counter, well they’re in plants.
And they also can form nitrosamines, which
is true, but nitrates, which are everywhere
in nature…They’re in all plants and they’re
all over the place.
They tend to form nitric oxide and not nitrosamines.
And the reason for that is because plants
also are packaged with a whole other bunch
of nutrients and micronutrients.
In the plant, it was designed a certain way.
And so the high vitamin C content which are
in all green leafy plants, all plants fruits,
vegetables, they all have vitamin C. The vitamin
C present there shifts the pathway, the nitric
oxide.
And so it tends to not form nitrosamines.
And that’s why eating plants, you end up getting
more nitric oxide when you eat them, which
is good because it’s good for vasodilation.
It helps endurance, right?
You’re getting more red blood cells, more
oxygen.
So the nitrates are in plants, it’s really
not a good counter argument.
And when I hear that, I just…I know people
haven’t dug into the mechanism and that you
don’t understand.
But so really nitrites, I think processed
meat is a terrible thing to eat on a daily
basis.
You know, once in a while, it’s fine.
You want to grill out and have your hot dog
on whatever, Fourth of July or whatever, you
know.
I mean, it’s…You obviously wouldn’t, but
I might, you know.
I tend to avoid them.
Like I rarely…Like I don’t go out and eat
processed meats because I know that it’s not
good for you, especially to eat on a daily
basis.
So and then there’s other problems with meat,
you know.
[Rich]: And what is it, the ami-, the hypocyclic
amines?
What do they call it again?
[Rhonda]: Well, those are nitrosamines, yeah.
[Rich]: Okay.
That’s what you were talking about, right?
[Rhonda]: And there’s also polycyclic amines
and polycyclic carbonyls, which happen with
the heat…
[Rich]: What about the heme, and the sort
of implications for promoting IGF-1.
Like there are other aspects to that, as well,
right?
[Rhonda]: So IGF-1 has nothing to do with
heme, but…
[Rich]: Those are two different things that
are going on.
[Rhonda]: Yeah, so I’ll explain.
So one of the things…So there have been
studies linking protein and meat consumption
to cancer incidence.
And there was a really well-done study published
last year by Valter Longo’s lab at UCLA.
And he has been doing a lot of research in
this area.
He’s a very good scientist.
He does studies on humans that are correlative,
so epidemiological studies, but he backs them
up with mouse data and then goes into like
cultured cells and he teases apart all the
mechanisms.
So he doesn’t just make an association.
He first makes the observation.
He finds the correlation.
And then he goes into the mouse model.
And he gives them a certain diet.
And he controls everything.
And then he goes and dives even further into
all the biochemical and molecular pathways
in different cultured cells.
So which is why he always ends up getting
like a really high impact scientific publication
like “Nature” or “Science.”
And he’s always publishing in those really
high impact journals.
So a study that he published last year, it
was looking at…I’ve forgot the time frame,
but it was people that were eating protein,
in meat.
And it looked at how much they were eating
and correlated it to their all-cause mortality.
So they were looking at cancer or they were
looking at different cardiovascular-related
diseases.
I’m not sure they were looking at neurodegenerative
disease, but they were definitely looking
at those two.
And they found that people that eat more meat
had a higher all-cause mortality.
They had more cardiovascular disease.
They had more cancer.
And that was the real main thing.
They had more cancer, but it was a certain…You
had…It was people that were older, but not
too old.
So once you got to a certain age like above…I
don’t remember exactly, 55 or something like
that, the opposite was true.
So protein became more important.
Protein intake was inversely correlated with
mortality.
So the higher the protein intake, the lower
the all-cause mortality.
And I think that has a lot to do with frailty.
You know, as you get older, you fall down
and break a bone.
You know, muscle mass is also a very important
indicator of all-cause mortality.
And not everyone that’s vegan is training
like you, is very aware of making sure they
are maintaining the muscle mass and staying
physically fit.
So protein does become important as you’re
getting older because you don’t want to break
a hip and then it takes you out, you know.
So, but what was interesting about this study
is that they went into animal models.
And they gave animal models cancer.
So they basically injected them with some
tumor cells, various types of cancer.
And then they gave them either a high-protein
or low-protein diet.
And they looked at the tumor growth.
So it wasn’t like feeding mice protein initiated
cancer, which is a very different point.
So there’s something that initiates cancer.
And there’s something that can then…
[Rich]: Promotes the growth.
[Rhonda]: Promote it to grow.
And so IGF-1 is a growth factor that’s…It’s
important for muscle growth.
It’s important for neuronal cell survival.
It’s important to making new neurons.
I mean, you want IGF-1.
You want it to repair damaged muscle.
You want it to make new neurons.
And when you’re a kid, you want it to grow.
However, as you become older and you have
accumulated a lifetime of damaged cells…Let’s
say you’re eating a diet that’s high in refined
carbohydrates and sugars, damaged cells.
You’re eating a bunch of processed meat, things
that are causing DNA damage.
You don’t want damaged cells to keep growing.
You want them to die.
[Rich]: Right.
So the IGF-1 is really like throwing gasoline
on the fire.
[Rhonda]: Exactly.
Exactly.
So it’s all about the context.
And so these mice that were given a high protein
diet, the tumors grew faster.
Duh.
Their IGF-1 was going up.
IGF-1 is a major promoter of cancer.
And it can allow cancer cells to grow and
thrive.
And when we have a damaged cell, our body
knows it.
And our body goes, “Oh, wow.
This is not good.
If I don’t kill this guy, it’s gonna potentially
become cancer.”
So it kills it, but you know what IGF-1 does?
IGF-1 comes over and it’s like, “Oh, no.
Don’t die.
No, no, we’re cool.
We’re cool.”
So it like overrides that whole inherent mech
pathway that we have in our bodies that are
protective against getting cancer.
So IGF-1 can be very bad, but it all depends
on the person.
So if you have someone that is very health-conscientious,
that’s an omnivore, people that are not eating
processed foods, refined carbohydrates, not
eating a bunch of processed meats they’re
eating their healthy meats and they’re getting
a lot of plants, a lot of micronutrients,
they’re exercising, they’re doing all the
right things to minimize the amount of damage,
to minimize their inflammation, they’re getting
enough fiber, all that stuff IGF-1 is not
as much of a problem for those people as it
is for the person who is eating meat and all
of the other bullshit.
[Rich]: Right.
Right, right, right.
Interesting.
[Rhonda]: You know, so I think that’s something
very important to keep in mind is the context
so when you’ve got these big headlines that
come out that say, “Eating meat causes cancer.”
Well, not exactly, you know.
[Rich]: Right.
Well, I think it’s a…Yeah, I think it’s
hard to talk about this study and the press
release.
I mean, the internet exploded yesterday, right,
with this news.
And what’s just as amazing as these scientific
results and these studies is the conversation
that’s swirling around it, right, and the
sort of participation of journalism in that
dialogue.
So we’re in this clickbait culture.
So there’s this sort of commercial drive to
create these sensational headlines that don’t
necessarily accurately reflect what the study
actually says.
I feel like you’re like one of the few people
who’s actually qualified to pontificate on
what these studies mean actually, but most
people aren’t.
You know, they’re just gonna read the headline.
And they’re gonna draw their conclusion.
And they’re not gonna really get into it.
And it’s been interesting to watch kind of
over the last 24 hours how these different
camps are sort of solidifying their positions.
So you have the like bacon-loving, low carb
people who are basically throwing the predictable
barbs out there about how it’s correlative
and like blah, blah, blah.
It doesn’t mean anything, which is sort of
an argument you could make about most nutritional
studies because that’s the very nature of
how they’re done, right?
And then I saw a funny headline on like a
parody site.
It said something about like, “You know, in
the wake of the WHO press release, vegans
250% more likely to be snarky,” or something
like that.
You know what I mean?
So it’s like both sides can participate in
this dance that’s going on around it.
And, of course it’s not like, “Eat a piece
of bacon and you get cancer.”
It’s certainly not that, but I think also
to say, to just dismiss it out of hand and
say, “This is meaningless and doesn’t require
us to even look at it and is lacking merit,”
is ridiculous as well.
I mean, I think that this was a consortium
of scientists that span not just the WHO,
but these other organizations over 10 countries.
I think they looked at 800 studies.
[Rhonda]: Eight hundred studies.
[Rich]: And that dealt with many populations
of people.
And, of course you can’t control…They’re
human beings.
You can’t control for every variable.
It’s impossible to do so.
And I think they even did try to control for
certain co-factors.
And that actually made the statistics less
dramatic in doing so.
And they still were able to to come up with
these correlative figures of what was it,
18% for every 50 grams of processed meat,
more likely for, was it, colon cancer, colorectal
cancer, 17% per 100 gram of red meat for a
couple other, pancreatic cancer, I think a
couple other ones, whatever.
So you can parse that out and draw from it
what you will, but I think at the end of the
day, like what I take away from it is saying,
“Yeah, well, this is something that there
is clearly some risks associated with this.
And we need to like take a look at that.”
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
I think you bring up some really important
points one being obviously the problem with
the sensational journalism, which instigates
this, but then there is the people that have
their own belief in their view.
And they, you know…instead of thinking more
like a scientist and going, “Okay.
Like I want to understand what’s really going
on here,” they’re just like, “No, I want to
eat bacon,” or, “No, I want to eat tofu,”
you know.
So it’s like you get this war.
[Rich]: Or they’ve been promoting a certain
perspective for so long.
So they’re very invested in that.
[Rhonda]: Right.
That’s a big problem, you know.
It’s something that I really…
[Rich]: And that’s something that I have to
like look at that, as well.
[Rhonda]: Right.
Absolutely.
[Rich]: Because I’m a vegan athlete guy.
So I go, “Well, what part of this is…Where
am I being dogmatic?
And when am I…”
You know, it’s important for me to be open-minded
and to really use my intelligence to look
at everything critically and objectively.
[Rhonda]: Right.
I mean, you have incentive to believe it,
right?
And you’re like, “Oh, yeah.”
[Rich]: Yeah, of course, but like the snark
doesn’t get anyone anywhere.
[Rhonda]: No, it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
[Rich]: Like I’m not participating in that
at all, you know.
[Rhonda]: That’s absolutely true.
[Rich]: And I think the headlines are inflammatory.
[Rhonda]: They are.
They always are.
And it’s…
[Rich]: The same thing with “Butter is Back,”
you know.
And then you just flip sides on that one,
you know.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
We could talk for like days on this.
We can talk for days, but I think the bottom
line is that there are interesting mechanisms
going on here that scientists need to continue
to explore.
People, the general public, needs to be aware
of possible correlations.
And when you have something like with the
nitrites and nitrosamines and you know that
these polycyclic carbonyl groups are formed
when you have the heat.
And it’s something to keep in mind to go,
“Okay.
Wait a minute.
So if I’m damaging myself this way and I’m
doing all this other stuff maybe that’s not
good.”
So it’s something that I think is important
to just have in your awareness.
And for the scientist it’s time to go to work.
We need to continue to look at this.
[Rich]: Yeah.
And another thing to bear in mind is that
there’s a greater play going on in the sense
that there’s a lot of…You know, talk about
vested interest.
Not just the people that adhere to a certain
position nutritionally, but the just sheer
economic forces behind all of this.
So here we’re dealing with relatively objective-minded
scientists who…You know, I’m sure there
are some politics in there, of course, but
it’s not like they are being funded by the
meat and dairy industry.
And the amount of money…What was the figure?
It’s something like $800 million and…You
know, the meat industry is like an $890 billion
industry.
Like there is a lot of money to be made in
this business.
And when their bottom line is being threatened
by studies like this I guarantee you that
there were a lot of back door sort of conversations
that took place in this World Health Organization
situation where they were being pressured
probably with regard to what these statistics
were gonna be by politicians.
And so the fact that they still came out and
said this I think is very powerful.
And you have to really understand that there’s
a gigantic system at play that has a vested
interest in having people believe that certain
foods that are unhealthy for you are indeed
healthy.
And so what we’re seeing right now in many
ways is very analogous to the tobacco industry
and how they handled it.
So the meat industry issues their press release.
“This is nonsense.
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
You know, they’re sort of lining up their
arguments to refute all of this because it’s
a threat.
It’s a threat to their business, right?
[Rhonda]: Yeah, of course.
I haven’t kept up with that.
I haven’t seen what their response was, but
I was curious.
What are people working at…I mean, people
working at Subway don’t give a crap, but what
are some…Because that’s all processed meat,
right, that’s like cold cuts.
I mean, that’s full of nitrites, I think.
I mean, I don’t know.
Maybe they have meat that’s not…You can
buy meat, but that…To my…That was the
first thing I thought of was all these like
sandwich places that are serving all these
processed meats.
I was like, “Oh, man.
They must be freaking out right now,” but
you know what?
This has been around…I talked about this
on like a year ago when I went on Joe Rogan’s
podcast, talk about nitrites and processed
meats and how it leads to nitrosamines and
causes cancer.
It’s not, like scientists have known about
this, it’s just now getting out there.
[Rich]: It’s not like…like, this is new?
[Rhonda]: This is not new.
[Rich]: This is like “breaking news.”
[Rhonda]: It’s not.
It’s really not.
It’s actually quite old.
[Rich]: I think the point really ultimately,
like it’s important for me to say that I’m
not here to tell anyone how to live their
life.
Like I’m not here to say, “You should do this
or do that,” or, “You need to be vegan.”
It’s like that’s not my business, right?
I can share my experience.
If that is interesting to people, I’m happy
to talk about it, but ultimately, everybody
needs to take responsibility for their own
decisions about how they’re gonna live.
And I think it’s just…Like studies like
this and kinda what’s happening and the conversations
that are occurring right now just make it
incumbent upon everybody to do their own research.
Like look into it.
Read the study yourself.
What is your conclusion?
Don’t just read the headline, you know.
Understand that there is an avenue for you
to expand your own horizons.
And I don’t…I mean, when were kids, like
there was no internet.
You know, if you wanted to research something
like this, that was like a…You were like
in the basement of some library looking at
microfiche.
And now, you have all of, anything you want
to know…With 10 minutes on Google, you can
find out all kinds of incredible information.
So avail yourself of that resource and educate
yourself.
[Rhonda]: Yeah, as much as you can.
Obviously, it’s difficult to…There’s a lot
of bad information on Google, as well, but
you’re right.
[Rich]: Especially with these studies, who’s
gonna read…Like it seems like so much research
now is funded by special interest groups.
And only someone like you is gonna take the
time to actually read the full study, rather
than the abstract, and to try to figure out
who’s doing the study and who has to gain
and who’s being paid by who and all kinds
of stuff, you know.
[Rhonda]: It’s hard.
It’s not just about who’s funding it.
I think the bigger elephant in the room is
the lack of funding and what drives scientists
to publish quicker and be sloppy with their
data is the fact that their career depends
on it.
So because there’s such great competition
for the little bit of money…Most of the
money in science is coming from the NIH.
So it’s government, taxpayer dollars, right?
And we only get so much every year.
And so there’s not a lot of money.
And so in order to get that little piece of
money, you have to have this whole like you
have to have a ton of publications.
You have to have good ones.
And in order to get something published, you
need to get data.
In order to get data, I mean, it takes a long…I
took six years to get my PhD, you know.
I got a “Nature Cell Biology” paper, which
is very prestigious, but it took me six years.
And it took me six years because science is
hard.
It fails.
You’ve gotta figure it out.
You’ve gotta work through that.
You’ve gotta problem-solve.
I mean, you’re trying to tackle really complex
problems.
[Rich]: Now you’re a podcaster.
[Rhonda]: I’m telling you.
It’s like there were so many times where I
was just like, “I can’t do this.
This is…”
I mean, I’m like digging into like figuring
out like the molecular proteins and interactions
and how they’re interacting and what time
frame they’re doing it inside of a cell, which
is inside of the mitochondria, which is inside
of the cell, which is inside of a tissue,
which is inside of an organism and how they’re
all interacting together.
I mean, it’s crazy, you know.
So my point is, is not to complain, but, kind
of.
It’s that science right now is in a bad place
because of the lack of funding.
And so something like 40% of scientific publications
can’t be replicated, which means people are
just getting data, and there’s a lot of times
when you get data and you can’t repeat it.
And it’s artifactual, meaning it just happened
because you did something.
[Rich]: And it seems like it’s given the same
weight in the conversation because if you
research a particular issue, you’re gonna
find studies that contradict each other, right?
And it’s sorta like, “Well, he says this.
And he says this.
So I guess they don’t know,” when, in fact,
maybe one is an incredibly robust study and
another one is like nonsense, but unless you’re
Rhonda Patrick, you’re not able to decipher
the distinguishing factors.
And then it gets propagated across the blogosphere,
and by journalists who are lazy or don’t have
the time or what have you to really parse
the facts.
And here we are where we have access to so
much information, but yeah, I mean, it really
is confusing.
You know, and it’s sorta like…
[Rhonda]: Yeah, you’re talking me up, but
thank you, but you’re right.
You know, it does take a lot.
And a lot of these conflicting data like one
says X, the other one says Y, well, who do
I believe?
You know, you really have to look at a large
body of evidence, and not only in that field,
but in other fields because then you can start
to figure out, “Oh, there are certain gene
polymorphisms that changes the way this vitamin
D gets converted into the active hormone.”
And so even if you give them a supplement,
they’re not making the vitamin D.
That may be why this and…You know, so there’s
all these intricate mechanisms and interactions
going on.
And I’m not the only one that can parse through
it.
There are a lot of good scientists out there,
but it’s hard.
And I see a lot of people out there that will
read an abstract or read a study.
And they’re not a scientist.
And they just spew out stuff.
And they are causing more problems.
Now there’s a lot of good people out there
that aren’t scientists that can make good
decisions and can figure things out.
So I’m not saying you have to be a scientist,
but…
[Rich]: But what you’re doing is so important
because you’re translating this information
to the public, right?
[Rhonda]: I’m trying.
[Rich]: So there’s a lot of scientists out
there.
And in their own communities and circles,
they know what’s going on, but they’re not
communicating to the public.
And they could be like, “Oh, yeah.
That’s all crazy what it says in ‘Time Magazine’
or whatever,” but like, so who’s the one who’s
gonna correct the record?
You know what I mean?
And so I think that makes your role all the
more important, but also that carries like
a lot of responsibility with it to like get
it right.
[Rhonda]: No joke.
No joke.
Yeah.
It’s like a huge responsibility.
And I’m sure you feel the same type of responsibility
because you’re sort of this poster child for…You’re
not really a child, poster athlete for these
vegan athletes, for people that are vegans
or vegetarians that are wanting to be competitive
athletes.
They’re probably looking up to you.
And so some of the information that you put
out there, you probably are very concerned
about getting right, but like you said, it’s
not your job to tell people what to do.
It’s your job to kinda make them think.
And that’s actually something that you made
me do with that blog post that was listing
the 10 reasons why…You know, I eat a mostly
plant-based diet based for health reasons
because I’m trying to get all these micronutrients
and fiber, but you really did make me think
about some of the impact on the water usage
and the CO2 emissions.
I mean, these are things I care about the
species extinction.
I mean, I’m drinking like plastic bottled
water right now, and I was talking to my husband.
You know, we’re staying at my mom’s.
And she doesn’t have a water filter on her
sink, which is ridiculous.
I’ve gotta get her one, but we have one.
So we’re not using these plastic bottles.
[Rich]: Like single-use items, yeah.
[Rhonda]: And then I look at the waste.
And I’m like…It’s disturbing.
Just to see what we’ve used in like a week,
it’s disturbing.
[Rich]: And you do it without thinking about
it, you know.
[Rhonda]: Totally.
Totally.
It’s a latent inhibition.
And it’s something that you get used to.
It’s something I became very familiar with
in graduate school.
And I’m totally rambling on here, but when
I was in graduate school, I used to do a lot
of mouse work.
And I’d have to kill mice for medical reasons.
So it’s probably against your beliefs, but
I had to kill mice.
And I’d kill them.
And then I’d harvest their organs, their livers,
their thymus, their spleens.
And I had to do a bunch of experiments to
figure out different immunological types of
things and all this metabolic blah, blah,
blah stuff, right?
And I would do that like definitely a couple
times a week.
Three times a week, I’d go and kill a mouse.
At first, it was really hard.
The first time I did it, you gas them with
CO2.
And you watch them suffocate.
And it was very disturbing.
And I couldn’t watch.
And then as I started to do it more, it was
like nothing.
Like I got to the point, because I was doing
this for years, where I would just go and
I’d kill a bunch of mice and cut them up,
open them up.
And it was just nothing.
It didn’t even phase me.
And then I stopped doing those experiments
and I shifted to doing something else for
like a few months, like half a year or something.
And then I went back to having to like do
these mouse studies because I was getting
my paper published.
And the reviewers were asking for all these
specific experiments.
So I went back to kill a mouse.
And all of a sudden, I was very sensitive
to it like it was the first time.
[Rich]: Yeah, isn’t that interesting, you
know.
[Rhonda]: It is.
It’s interesting.
[Rich]: It goes back to that idea that I think
we are all hard-wired to be compassionate.
Like we don’t want to kill things, you know.
It’s just we become creatures of habit, you
know.
And we just sort of go on this autopilot living
this “Matrix” lifestyle without really questioning
the grand paradigm of why we’re doing what
we’re doing.
And that’s applicable to everything from the
plastic water bottle to the car you drive
to the the iPhone.
It’s like do you spend time thinking about
how your iPhone arrived in your hand?
Like it’s probably a horror show, do you know
what I mean?
But this is the culture that we live in.
So then it becomes a question of how can we
do better?
How can we make better decisions that help
us live a little bit more gently on the planet
in certain ways?
You know, and it’s not about being perfect.
You know, and I certainly stand on no high
horse because I’m vegan.
I just flew to Europe and back in an airplane,
you know.
And I use an iPhone.
And I drive a pickup truck.
So it’s like you know what I mean?
Like I’m in no position to judge anybody else.
And that judgment is violence on others, as
well.
So I think that to the extent that we can
be more compassionate and understanding with
each other and that if anything, we turn that
spotlight on ourselves and just focus on improving
ourselves and stop worrying about what everyone
else is doing and why they’re not seeing the
world the way that you would like them to
see, I think we might get onto a better track.
[Rhonda]: Awesome, but it’s so true.
When you turn the light onto yourself and
you start to understand and analyze what your
motives are, what your intentions, why you
behave the way you do, you begin to become
more compassionate and understand others.
And then, it’s a little easier.
And I really have enjoyed this discussion,
Rich.
Like you’re a super cool guy.
I really, really enjoy talking with you.
[Rich]: Yeah, thanks so much for coming out
here and doing this.
You know, I can’t wait to have you on my podcast.
We’ll do it again.
[Rhonda]: Yeah.
It’s gonna be fun.
I know.
It’s gonna be fun.
[Rich]: Why don’t I come to your house to
do it?
[Rhonda]: Right.
Right.
It’s gonna be fun.
I look forward to it.
[Rich]: Cool.
[Rhonda]: So you want to…I mean, people
can find you.
You know, you wrote a book, things like that.
[Rich]: Yeah.
Sure.
So easiest way to find me is richroll.com,
my website, the podcast, “Rich Roll Podcast.”
I wrote a book called “Finding Ultra,” which
is my story.
So, a memoir.
A lot of nutrition information in there in
the appendices about what I eat and why I
eat the way that I do.
This spring, my wife and I wrote a cookbook
called “The Plant Power Way,” which is basically
a plant-based cookbook and lifestyle guide.
It’s 120 plus plant-based recipes, super yummy
and delicious and awesome.
And you can find those on Amazon or wherever
you buy books.
[Rhonda]: Right on.
[Rich]: And I’m just @richroll on Twitter
and Instagram and all those places, whatever.
[Rhonda]: Alright, Rich.
Very cool.
Thanks a lot.
[Rich]: Thanks so much.
[Rhonda]: I really enjoyed it.
Cool.