“The sign of old age, extolling the past at the expense of the present.”

Sydney Smith

In an odd kind of a way, I welcome the following missive from the folks at PETA.  Actually, if there were any credible way for an insurance company to verify the nutritional intake of its insureds — wow, just imagine the advantage to be had by the “Paleo Health Insurance Co.”  If there’s any way to force recognition of the efficacy of a particular lifestyle, just put a substantial amount of money on the line and get Wall Street involved.  What USAA has been able to do with home and auto insurance, the “Paleo Health Insurance Co.” could do on the health care front; that is, by way of selective vetting (in this case, by insuring only service members and their families), be able to charge rock-bottom premiums for platinum coverage and fantastic service.  Selective vetting for health care insurance based on nutritional intake?  Hell, where do I sign?

Hey, I’m all for WellPoint covering every single Vegetarian and SAD-connoisseur out there.  Just count me out of that doomed cabal, thank you very much, and leave me to my wanton carnivory.

Anyway, if you haven’t yet had the pleasure, enjoy:

July 27, 2009

Angela F. Braly
President, CEO, and Director
WellPoint, Inc.

Dear Ms. Braly:

On behalf of PETA and our more than 2 million members and supporters worldwide, I am writing to urge you to offer lower health insurance premiums to vegetarians and raise the rates of your meat-eating customers. With the possibility of an increased number of public and private insurance providers entering the field and the mountain of evidence linking meat consumption to some of our nation’s deadliest diseases, this change could improve WellPoint’s bottom line — while also helping to ensure that your policyholders don’t flat line.

The American Dietetic Association and the Dieticians of Canada conducted perhaps the largest review ever of all studies on vegetarian diets and concluded that vegetarians are less prone to heart disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes, and obesity than meat-eaters are. Vegetarians can get all the protein, vitamins, and fiber that they need without the artery-clogging cholesterol and saturated fat found in animal flesh.

By giving your policyholders a financial incentive to go vegetarian — and penalizing those whose meat-based diets fuel our nation’s worst health problems and rising health-care costs — WellPoint could save millions of dollars in the long run, ensuring your competitiveness in a broadened field of providers as your members begin to require fewer cholesterol-lowering medications, chemotherapy treatments, and diabetes drugs.

In addition to the vast health benefits, by switching to a vegetarian diet, each of your customers would save more than 100 animals per year from intensive confinement on factory farms, where they are mutilated without any painkillers and denied every everything that is natural and important to them before they are shipped to slaughterhouses, where many have their throats are cut while they are still conscious and able to feel pain.

PETA would be happy to provide free educational materials for you to send to your customers that would help them make the transition to a healthier, more humane vegetarian lifestyle. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Tracy Reiman
Executive Vice President

What more can be said? 🙂

In health,

Keith


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Keith Norris is a former standout athlete, a military vet, and an elite strength and conditioning expert with over 35 years of in-the-trenches experience. As a serial entrepreneur in the health and wellness space, he is an owner, co-founder and Chief Development Officer of the largest Paleo conference in the world, Paleo f(x) . As well, Keith is a partner in one of the most innovative lines of boutique training studios in the nation, Efficient Exercise. He’s also a partner in ARXFit training equipment, and a founding member of ID Life. In his spare time, he authors one of the top fitness blogs in the health and wellness sphere, Theory To Practice.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Nice find, Keith.

    All I can say is that I wish there weren’t so many barriers to entrepreneurship in health affairs. We stifle innovation in so many ways.

    This needs to happen:

    “Paleo Health Insurance Co.” –> ‘… because health insurance should be more like Vibrams. We’re the ‘barefooting’ and Paleo-eating alternative.’

    I’ll put my entire MHA on the line for that.

    Best,

    Brent

  2. I know some of my fellow Paleo-ites are celebrating the proposed (and likely coming soon) sin taxes on sugary sodas etc etc

    But they’re missing the point. Yes, soda is not good for you. But if you think that the government can legislate good health, you have another thing coming. After all, the government engineered the low-fat mis-information cascade in the late 70s/early 80s.

    What that means for Paleoites? Foods that we think are healthy, rest assured, our friends in the government don’t or won’t. Be prepared for sin taxes on meat and fat and most especially, evilarteryclogging saturated fat.

    • No doubt this is scary territory, along with NAIS and the HR 2749/S 510 bills knocking around congress. Classic examples of…I was going to say “government wrong-mindedness”, but really, it’s government malfeasance. Can’t we all just be Libertarians? 🙂

  3. http://www.slate.com/id/2228713/

    “It’s ironic that so many advocates for healthy eating are also outspoken gourmands. Alice Waters, the proprietor of Chez Panisse, calls for a “delicious revolution” of low-fat, low-sugar lunch programs. It’s a central dogma of the organic movement that you can be a foodie and a health nut at the same time—that what’s real and natural tastes better, anyway. Never mind how much fat and sugar and salt you’ll get from a Wabash Cannonball and a slice of pain au levain. Forget that cuisiniers have for centuries been catering to our hedonic hunger—our pleasure-seeking, caveman selves—with a repertoire of batters and sauces. Junk foods are hyperpalatable. Whole Foods is delicious. Doughnuts are a drug; brioche is a treat.

    Some tastes, it seems, are more equal than others.

    A fat tax, then, discriminates among the varieties of gustatory experience. And its impact would fall most directly on the poor, nonwhite people who tend to be the most avid consumers of soft drinks and the most sensitive to price. Under an apartheid of pleasure, palatable drinks are penalized while delicious—or even hyperdelicious—products come at no extra charge. What about the folks who can’t afford a $5 bottle of POM Wonderful? No big deal, say the academics writing in the New England Journal of Medicine; they can always drink from the faucet. Here’s how the article puts it: “Sugar-sweetened beverages are not necessary for survival, and an alternative (i.e. water) is available at little or no cost.” So much for Let them eat cake. “

  4. >>>Can’t we all just be Libertarians?<<<<

    @Keith

    Are you suggesting that you know better than the government what is best for you? How. Dare. You.

    Completely off-topic:

    I am been having a shitty time at CrossFit lately — cannot even get close to my PRs for DLs etc etc
    and I have just self-diagnosed myself with adrenal fatigue.

    And tips on shaking it?

    • Classic symptom of overtraining in general. I’m going to assume your diet is dialed in. Some obvious things to consider from there: coffee/caffeine over-consumption, adequate sleep, adequate stress (in all forms) reduction, adequate 0mega3/fish oil intake. This is one of my (very) few “peeves” with the CrossFit protocol — it over-emphasizes both following the WOD, and a constant, linear striving for PRs. This mentality works fantastic for a while — but eventually, the need for some manner of intensity cycling (periodization) comes into play. Remember, just because CrossFit is essentially GPP doesn’t mean you can’t beat yourself down with it. No one can continue to progress linearly forever, sooner or later, in order to continue to progress, you’ve got to adopt the “one step back, two steps forward” philosophy. It sounds like now is the time for “one step back”. Now, having danced this dance for so long, I know myself well enough to know when to back-off and/or change things up. If you don’t yet have that feel, a good trick is to monitor your waking body temperature. Once you have a baseline established, it’s easy to identify once your temperature starts to trend low. It’s a good biofeedback tool as well.

      Something else to keep in mind: once you hit a certain point in your training, a PR in a particular exercise will always come at the expense of slack in another movement. This seems to be the case in even closely related endeavors — the power clean and the 40 yd dash, for example. The trick at that point is to more narrowly define your goals. Do you want to be an “all-’rounder” or do you want to excel at a particular movement? My prime emphasis in my playing days was speed — very short duration power generation being a close 2nd. My emphasis has since shifted a bit to power generation in the 0 – 10 sec time frame (with extended repeatability), with speed being a more distant second. These differing goals have necessitated a shift in training emphasis. Overriding each goal/training emphasis, though is the need for some manner of thoughtful periodization.

      BTW, some things that I like to do during “back-off” times include honing new “tricks” (perfecting a ring muscle-up, say), lower intensity, longer duration sprints, Body weight work, yoga (haven’t tried this yet, but it’s on the map), maybe a few weeks worth of McGuff-style BBS HIIT work…you get the idea.

      • @Keith

        You are absolutely right. While I love CrossFit, it is waaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy too easy to overtrain. This is certainly one of the biggest weaknesses and most valid criticisms.

        I like the body temp idea. And I am gonna quit coffee cold turkey….again. 🙂

    • If that’s your argument against PETA… find a better argument. I would be embarassed to associate myself with the rhetoric contained within your link.

        • The argument presented in the link is that the moral severity of causing animal death is directly proportional to the number of deaths. So a vet who puts down ten cancerous cats is “worse” (less moral) than a man who kills eight dogs via dog fighting. This is classic utilitarian, and there are many good arguments against this position. I presented one above (vet vs dog fighting); the Internet or any ethics text will have more.

          PETA would certainly be a much more effective organisation if it were less radical. For example, the RSPCA in the UK accepts that animal farming will occur and has created a very successful high welfare range of meats called “Freedom Food”. PETA’s stance against all animal farming prevents it making useful contributions like this. This is a legitimate complaint against PETA; the utilitarian arguments is not.

          BTW, interesting program on the US healthcare reform on Radio 4 right now: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00mrw7t

          • Ah, I didn’t realize you were referring to the “Vick” link; I wasn’t sure.

            Thanks, BTW, for the link. I love the BBC, and it’s refreshing to get a view of “yourself” from across the pond.

  5. The initial wave of fear that this treatise illicits is slightly assuaged by the fact that there are manyfat cats in Washington, who enjoy their steak and scotch, and who would object to such programs on the national level.

    At the same time, the same politicians can afford to pay such taxes, especially when voting them up makes them look noble in the ignorant public eye.

    The wave of fear resurges.

    Side note.

    Several coworkers have decided to get on board with Paleo eating, after seeing my results. So far, one reports that his wife, who doesn’t have a weight problem, dropped her triglycerides from ~290 to less than 160 in less than three weeks by adopting a Paleo diet. They were open minded to begin with, and adopted the lifestyle mainly for their children’s health. I doubt they expected to realize such benefits!

    Thanks for another good find Keith

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