Given a Choice, Why Eat Antibiotics?


I think it’s worth reading this summary in Environmental Health News of the Korean study that showed a decline in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals and antibiotics after just five days on a “vegetarian” diet. (I first saw this in a piece by Tom Laskawy, over at Grist. And here is an earlier study with similar results.)  

The quotes around vegetarian are necessary because the study doesn’t specify what that means; rather, it says participants lived in a Buddhist temple and “adopted to the monk’s lifestyle.” Which could well mean a vegan diet. (Or even one free of root vegetables, since some Buddhists eschew those, because they kill the plant. But let’s not discuss this.)  

Is this important? Not as important as the news the study has generated, but it’s worth observing. All industrially-raised livestock are routinely treated with antibiotics – 70 percent of all antibiotics in this country are given to animals, and the overkill is such that antibiotics are being found in soil and therefore plants – so it’s safe to say that if you want to avoid actually consuming antibiotics you want to avoid all industrially raised livestock and their products: not only meat but dairy too.  

It’s as convincing an argument for avoiding these kinds of foods as I know. The solution is to eliminate or drastically reduce your consumption of them. Most people, I believe, should aim for a combination: eliminate industrially raised livestock (and their products) and reduce your consumption of meat and dairy, even if it’s organic. The levels at which most Americans eat meat and dairy are unsustainable in any case, so reduction in consumption along with a switch to organic meat and dairy is the smartest path.

Posted in Vegan


  1. Anonymous said...

    I followed the link to the story and this is shady science at best. What antibiotics were they measuring? The article merely pointed out they were looking for "phthalates" and "antibiotics"; no specifics. The abstract didn’t do much better. Unless I want to spend $31.50, and even then it’s not a guarantee.It doesn’t mention much about their environment either. It says they were at a Buddhist temple. In downtown Pyongyang? Or rural Korea? No doubt the soil, air, and water quality of the place the people were living and growing their food plays a role. Show me a sustainable way to live the Buddhist lifestyle for the just under 7 billion people on this planet and then I’ll consider the idea of "phthalates" and "antibiotics" being specific enough to draw a correlation.And must I remind you that tolerance levels for most antibiotics is parts per billion? Per kg! That’s 0.000000001 grams per kilogram. And I guarantee you aren’t eating a kilogram of meat a day.I expect better journalism from an article on

  2. ajbenoit said...

    it also depends on what kind of monk they are. some will eat meat if it is given to them.

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