Joe Rogan hasn’t made a career out of controversy, but he rarely shies away from it.
The comedian and MMA commentator’s ultra-successful podcast The Joe Rogan Experience features guests from all walks of life: scientists and pseudoscientists; celebrities and freaks; even politicians like Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang. The colourful ‘psychonaut’ is far more interested in hosting interesting discussions than having an explicit agenda, and his choices in guests and conversation topics regularly raise eyebrows.
One group which Rogan has consistently clashed with is vegans. While Rogan espouses keeping an open mind and is no stranger to alternative diet measures (he’s a fan of things like mushroom coffee and fasting, as well as having tried the carnivore diet) he’s consistently demonstrated a marked scepticism of veganism (despite, when push came to shove, admitting it is possible to be healthy on a vegan diet, after talking to The Game Changers co-producer James Wilks).
Two more recent guests of his – high-profile vegans who have since quit the no-meat lifestyle – have got vegans particularly peeved.
Firstly, Rogan invited singer/songwriter Miley Cyrus on his podcast, who went from being one of the most high-profile celebrity vegans out to eating fish on the regular, explaining to Rogan that she felt mentally fatigued on a vegan diet and improved once introducing omega-3 from fish into her intake. This infuriated vegans, who were quick to criticise Cyrus’ (and Rogan’s) reasoning. Just as that storm died down, Rogan invited controversial boxer Mike Tyson onto the podcast, too – who related that eating vegan made him “miserable” and claimed that all the kale he was eating was poisoning his blood.
“Here’s what happens when you go vegan: for the first six weeks, as your cell membranes lose potency from omega-6, your body freaks out and releases more thyroid hormone, which temporarily makes you feel good. Then, that compensating factor stops working, and you begin the long slow decline into weakness, brain fog, joint pain, kidney stones, and acting like a jerk most of the time (if you don’t believe me, just wait for the comments on this post),” he cheekily adds.
“Look, it happened to me. I was a devout raw vegan… Eat what you are supposed to be made out of. A diet that is at least 50% undamaged healthy fats in the right ratios. That means grass-fed butter, grass-fed meat, egg yolks, and collagen. The rest of your diet can be vegetables that don’t act as kryptonite for you… most plants want to kill you, especially kale. Your genetics and your gut bacteria are going to tell you which plants are safe for you to eat. The list won’t be as long as you think it is.”
Kale and vegans go together like gym bros and overnight oats. The leafy green has enjoyed a huge revival in recent years thanks to its versatility and nutritional benefits, being filled with vitamins and fibre alongside other goodies. However, it comes with some serious strings attached: it can affect your thyroid and damage your metabolism, The Daily Meal relates. It’s also a notorious bioaccumulator of poisonous heavy metals, Delish reports.
Asprey and Rogan are both big advocates of the keto diet, and are both pretty committed carnivores, so it’s worth keeping that in mind. The counter-point to the argument they’re framing is that both Cyrus and Tyson potentially had other deficiencies in their diet or lifestyle that were causing their discomfort… And while kale can be quite bad for people with an under-active thyroid, it’s not as if it’s the only food vegans can eat.
The reality is that the science isn’t settled in regards to dieting. Trends are cyclical and ever-evolving: we’ve gone from the ‘fat-free’ fear of the 80s and 90s to embracing high-fat diets like keto, for example. Veganism might be all the rage now but what will the health and nutrition landscape look like in half a century’s time? It’s hard to say.
As long as we can keep enjoying kale chips with our ribeyes, we’re happy.