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Friday July 19th 2019


How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: The Case For Veganism, Part I

Post Published: 15 November 2009
Category: Column, How To Kick Your Thyroid's Ass, Thyroid Nutrition and Health
This post currently has 17 responses. Leave a comment

Today begins Part I in a series in which I’ll delve into the world of veganism and explain how and why it relates to thyroid health and chronic illness.   Trust me, there is a link.   I think it’s important to illuminate the hidden and dirty practices of the meat industry, and by avoiding animal products, vegans also avoid the health risks associated with eating meat, dairy, and poultry.   However, there are drawbacks to any lifestyle diet and in future installments, I’ll explain why veganism, if not done thyroid-friendly can actually wreak havoc on our endocrine systems.

But first, I’ll start with an admission: I am not a vegan.   I eat seafood (let me emphasize, wild-caught. I’ll explain why in future articles), which of course, has a face and by vegan standards, I’m not an actively practicing vegan. (I do date a rather smart and handsome vegan though, if that means anything).   The fact that I no longer eat poultry, dairy, meat, or other fleshly goods doesn’t allow me entrance into the vegan club all because of the salmon or tuna every now and then.   But hey, it’s cool because veganism, or at least the tenets to which I adhere make alot of sense to me, and hopefully they will to you too.

I hope it’s not confusing, but let me counter that last statement, by saying, I’m a little torn.   I don’t have my mind made up about who is right because I don’t think there is one right way to eat.   And largely, I like that because it allows for the idea that our bodies are different and no one eating plan will work for us all; veganism included.   My opinion here of meat (I have separate issues with dairy, which I’ll recap later) is really based upon our modern mishandling of it.   I’m open to the idea that a handful of “real food” or “pro food”   bloggers and writers (whom I enjoy reading) ascribe to: organic, grass-fed, free-range, humanely raised and sanitarily slaughtered/processed meat is good.   Yep.   I said it.   (It’s also insanely expensive and sometimes not accessible.),   And here’s where the veganism part comes in, because the conventional meat we buy at the grocery store today is nothing like nature intended.

The neatly packaged meat in the supermarket comes from huge industrial farms where animals are treated like merchandise instead of living creatures capable of experiencing pain, or, at best, transmitting diseases to people who consume them.   This means, cows/pigs/birds/etc./etc. are often knee-deep in their own feces, crowded in with hundreds or thousands of other animals, cramped in spaces so tight and dark (many aren’t even allowed to see the light of day) and unventilated that viruses and bacteria (namely, bacteria from the feces in which they are forced to live) are highly communicable.   Pigs’ tails are snipped, birds beaks are cut, all so that the animals, in such close quarters, don’t bite and harm each other.

In housing areas nearby these factory farms, or C.A.F.Os (confined/concentrated animal feeding operations) the rates of illness (sometimes even death) are striking.   That is because the toxic sludge from the thousands of animals has nowhere to go.   Because these farms are operating on such high scales, the poop literally cannot be absorbed into the ground fast enough.   What results are huge toxic lagoons of shit that sit somewhere on the farm, waiting to be distributed somewhere: dry ground, a river, a stream, back onto plants as fertilizer; wherever “farmers” can displace the shit.   Until that time, however, residents surrounding the C.A.F.O. suffer all sorts of conditions and sickness from the wafting, stinging odor.   Infant mortality rates are even higher in areas near these farms.

And because of all of this, animals get sick.   The solution to these man-made problems?: antibiotics.   Antibiotics are used also for combating the unnatural diet fed to cows: genetically-modified corn and soy.   Their stomachs are not meant to tolerate grains, so they get infected.   Whether it be from standing in their own shit, being hundreds of feet from the wafting sting of the lagoons of their own poop sludge, or from the corn and soy fed to the animals, they are pumped full of antibiotics their entire sad little lives.

Oh, and did I mention that ground beef is doused in ammonia to kill bacteria, before hitting store shelves?,   Or that chickens are forced to sit on a ground that is also doused in ammonia, burning the feathers off their legs and scarring the skin nearest the ground?,   Yes, we’re ingesting ammonia.   What’s more, according to the New York Times, “Ground beef is usually not simply a chunk of meat run through a grinder. Instead, records and interviews show, a single portion of hamburger meat is often an amalgam of various grades of meat from different parts of cows and even from different slaughterhouses. These cuts of meat are particularly vulnerable to E. coli contamination, food experts and officials say. Despite this, there is no federal requirement for grinders to test their ingredients for the pathogen… Here’s where the ammonia comes in: “;records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria…

We’ve heard about the dangers of genetically-modified foods: they are untested entities that are not indigenous to the planet and the food supply, and therefore, are a threat to public health.   Animals are raised on GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) their entire lives, not to mention, most of those GMOs are also goitrogenic.   It provides them little nutrition, lots of fodder for fattening, and tons of negative side effects.

This all sounds unappetizing, right?,   But what does this have to do with thyroid disease?,   Simply put: alot.   We have to ask ourselves, can this alter the animal’s tissues and muscles and hormonal systems?,   What then happens when human beings ingest this altered meat?,   Is this really healthy?,   What about the fact that they’re fed a steady diet of goitrogenic foods (namely, soy) — can this reside in the animal protein and then affect our thyroids?,   And what about the antibiotics that were injected into that meat?; we ingest them every time we eat a hamburger or hot dog.   Because our body’s natural balance of flora is the basis for our immune system and well-being, eating continual doses of antibiotics via our food supply sets us up for sickness.   We have no natural defenses.

These practices are safe for our bodies?,   They’re safe for the chronically-ill with weakened systems?,   All those goitrogenic residues are safe to be absorbed into our bodies?

Until Next Week,

Love Always,


Have a question, comment, story, love letter, or rant/rave to send me?: Liz@DearThyroid.com

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17 Responses to “How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: The Case For Veganism, Part I

  1. Aside from the “, I like that because it allows for the idea that our bodies are different and no one eating plan will work for us all; veganism included”, I think this is a well written article and have bookmarked it for future reference. However, the human body is designed for an herbivorous diet. we have merely adapted to meat over ryhe centuries. Other than that, I will look at your blog regularly.

    • dearthyroid says:

      Bill, thanks so much for reading and commenting!! I appreciate it so! And I will be getting into the downside of animal protein, aside from the problems with industrial farming. Meaning, I’ll go into why animal protein and dairy can hurt the body even if they are correctly raised. Look for future installments!! –Liz

  2. Oh yeah,… Love the pin up girls!

  3. amy says:

    Great article as always! We do not buy commercial meat or dairy anymore! We eat grass fed/free range, organic, wild meat and dairy. It tastes much better! It is more expensive but well worth it. I am convinced that we are what we eat so if we eat corn fed antibiotic laden beef it is in us. I am looking forward to future articles on this subject. I really love my meat protein! Interested in the flip side. Thank you! Amy

    • dearthyroid says:

      Thanks Amy! Good for you for not buying commercial and conventional animal products. You’re doing yourself such a favor. Do you notice any change in your health since switching? I’d be interested to hear. 🙂 And yesssss… so true: we ARE what we eat. And I’d rather not be sick, so I’m not going to injest something that is diseased itself. Hopefully I can provide some info you haven’t heard before, in the next installment! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! –Liz

  4. Jess Burnquist says:

    Thanks, Liz! Slightly dreading + extremely excited to read your thoughts regarding protein! It’s a scary onion to peel, this nutrition/health relationship, and also incredibly wonderful in that if one gets a handle on it, and makes slow but simple changes, the body will respond. I like the mini-doses you are offering, and am loving the positive affects of no gluten, and corn. 🙂 Next: RICE. 🙂

    • dearthyroid says:

      Hey hey Ms. Jess! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Yeah, there are so many schools of thought on protein… it’s crazy. Hopefully I’ll offer you some interesting stuff in upcoming weeks. I just learned about all of this factory farming stuff at the beginning of this year, and couldn’t believe it at the time. That’s what happens when profit supersedes safety.

      OHHH I LOVE that you are feeling good off the gluten and corn! I wonder how you’ll feel with no rice. Please do keep me updated!

  5. lori says:

    Thanks again, Liz, for a very informative and well written article. Once again, you brought to my attention something I hadn’t thought about in quite the way you presented it…
    I know how bad antibiotic-fed animal meat is but I hadn’t thought about it acting as an antibiotic in my system. It makes sense, of course, as 60% of our immune system is regulated by the gut and if we are ingesting antibiotics via these meats, we are really fighting a losing battle.


    • dearthyroid says:

      Hi Lori!! Glad you liked the article. Hopefully you learned something maybe you hadn’t considered before. 🙂 Hopefully the same will be true in upcoming weeks. 🙂 And yeah, it’s crazy to think — whatever the animal ingests, we have a chance at ingesting. All the more reason to care about the welfare of animals.

  6. Robyn says:

    Great article, Liz! I have witnessed industrial farming and dairy operations first hand (mostly during my vet school training, where my emphasis was horses/large animals). I can tell you that for 90+% of animal “farming” you are absolutely correct. There are smaller operations that do a better job with animal welfare/housing, but the animals are still pushed with inappropriate feeds/antibiotics. It’s a money-centric, reactive method, rather than an animal-centric, proactive method. And yes, the animals suffer, and of course, downstream we do as well.
    I feel doubly torn, because as a veterinarian, I could be more of a voice to affect change. The problem is that the farmers themselves work on such a tight profit margin, that vets are frequently used only for very valuable (breeding) stock that become sick, or as consultants when a problem reduces production. Food animal veterinarians spend very little time with actual animals.
    I am not a vegan. I do buy responsibly raised meet from here: http://www.coonrockfarm.com/, and I know I’m incredibly lucky to have that option. Oh, but there is a premium–bacon $8/lb, ground beef $8/lb, whole turkeys $7/lb. I’m glad to pay those prices and support the cause, but I can’t afford it often. Therefore we’re mostly vegetarian, because I would rather not eat meat than support CAFO production. (And while we are not religious in this household, when we do eat meat, we say a blessing thanking the farmer and the animal!)
    Unfortunately, the saying “Good, cheap, fast–pick two” rings true for ALL farming in the US. The government has made meat (and corn and soy) ridiculously cheap to buy, and the “trickle up” means it has to get cheaper and cheaper to produce.
    I’m not sure that humans are, indeed, true herbivores, although that’s not my fight, and I am by no means an expert on human nutrition. My understanding is that true herbivores require a way to digest plant fiber and that polysaccharides in cell walls cannot be degraded by mammalian enzymes. Instead, animals depend on microbial fermentation, which cows and other ruminants do in the rumen. Horses lack a rumen, but like rabbits, use hindgut fermentation, largely in the cecum. Humans don’t have rumens, nor do we have much of a cecum. Additionally, B12 is not bioavailable from plants, so you either have to eat it from an animal, or have a bacterial source (as true herbivores can, but not humans).
    And I have a question for you and your hottie boyfriend (;-)), and I’m not trying to be cheeky–do you wear/own leather products? I have always been amazed at the number of vegans/vegetarians who own leather products as to me this seems like a contradiction….
    I can’t wait to read the future installments! And maybe I can wrangle up a special guest for the future who knows a whole lot more about food animal production than me (a friend who is one of my former teachers).

  7. Lolly says:

    Liz another well written article, I have never been big on eating meat, I can’t even bare to handle it, hate bones, or fat but yet I am not a vegetarian. I too buy organic, not very often as it is quite expensive but it’s worth it.


    • dearthyroid says:

      Thanks Ms. Lolly! How are ya? Long time, no see!

      Yeah, weird. I haven’t ever been good with raw meat either. In my teens, I avoided animal protein but only because it didn’t taste good to me, not for dietary reasons. And yeah, the “good” organic meat is so expensive… costs an arm and a leg. I try and stick with high-protein veggies.

  8. Zari says:

    Not trying to change anyone’s mind here, just talking about my experience and opinions. Liz I know you feel very strongly about this issue.

    For a number of years when I was younger I was mostly vegetarian. I never completely swore of any food, just didn’t eat meat very often. I found that every couple of months doing this I would get incredible cravings, go buy a steak, cut the fat off and eat it, and then eat the rest of the steak. To me this says something was lacking in my diet, most likely fat. Another source might have been found in eating more nuts and other sources of vegetable fat, I don’t know.

    When I got married I stopped this style of eating and began eating more conventionally. I also started eating a lot more junk food. A few years ago, alarmed at my weight gain and high cholesterol (before I became aware of thyroid problems which had probably been lurking for decades) I went to see a naturopath who suggested a diet mildly like the paleo diet. Basically I started eating far more fruits and vegetables along with a lot of meat and fish. I liked this but eventually cut back on some of the meat and fish and replaced it with a variety of complex carbs. When I did this I found I very much needed to be sure to incorporate more vegetable fats. Olives and olive oil, and nuts are my current choices.

    I really have no intention of giving up meat and fish, because I absolutely love eating it and find it delicious. I did continue to avoid most junk food and to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and find that my health has increased greatly.

    As for farm vs wild, and Liz we’ve discussed this before and this is just my thoughts:

    I eat free range organic wild caught meat whenever I can. However since I am too lazy to hunt myself this puts me in the position of depending on the generosity of friends. Fortunately I have a couple of friends who are avid hunters. I’ve considered strongly raising my own rabbits and truthfully would love to have a goat although that probably violates some health ordinance.

    As for the fish I do have a good friend who loves to fish, and she gives me a lot of wild fish. However she showed me the remains of a tuna she caught once, and showed me how she had to cut off all the diseased parts that were a result of pollution. Tuna are close to the top of the food chain and as such are quite susceptable to this. So are swordfish. I read recently that more than half of freshwater fish in the US is unsafe to eat more than occaisionally. Most of this is due not to bad farming run off but from stuff like PCBs and mercury found in exhaust from power plants. It’s made me think that the farmed fish may actually be safer! Not to mention the whole issue of the world’s fisheries are in serious decline.

    My eldest daughter is a quasi vegetarian for health reasons. She’ll eat fish and also goat, just because she likes it so much. My youngest is a vegetarian for moral reasons. She won’t eat anything that might feel pain on death. I get synsevic injections in my knees which have helped A LOT with my osteoarthritis. A couple of times she has told me that this too is immoral, that a chicken shoudn’t be put to death just so I can walk pain free. Too my mind this is going too far, but I’ve learned to limit my arguements with 15 year olds…

    Any way it comes down to I agree with much of what you say, but do feel that we have the ability to metabolize flesh for a reason. I’d love to only eat stuff I either raised or caught and killed myself, but as I said, I’m just too lazy.


  9. Marie says:

    Hi. I thought I’d jump in and throw in my two cents. As you’ve heard me say before, there is so much information out there, much of it is contradictory and confusing. I’m open to everything and even when I make up my mind about something, I’m always open to changing it. I guess I have to be this way because what my body needs seems to change too. I was a vegetarian for many years. At the time I lived on campus and I wasn’t interested in Marriot’s nasty factory farm meat and I couldn’t afford organic free range meats but most importantly, I feel such an incredible bond with animals that I had (still have) trouble consuming them without being acutely aware of what I’m doing. I’ve been sensitive to this from a very young age. As time went on and my health began to waver, my need for meat protein began to increase. I started to feel these intense cravings for animal protein that didn’t subside. Ignoring these cravings induced an overwhelming sense of weakness and heaviness like moving through quick sand. Something that I later came to understand as the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Eating meat stabilized me whereas avoiding it caused me to further deteriorate. To this day that still applies. Later I would be diagnosed wit adrenal fatigue and was told by several different practitioners that adrenal fatigue is very hard to recover from if you are a strict vegetarian. I have finally had to come to terms with this and believe me, I am the queen of giving up vices. If I think it’s bad for me, it’s gone. So despite what the studies say, I feel on a very intuitive level that meat consumption for me, in moderate amounts, is what my body needs to continue functioning optimally, even if it kinda breaks my heart.

    • dearthyroid says:


      First, I’d never want to make someone feel bad for eating meat; that wasn’t at all the intention. All I was trying to convey is that we’re eating more protein than we realize — animal, plant, or otherwise. Whatever nutritional road you’ve found that works for you is something that should be honored and celebrated. Our bodies are all so different and one eating plan will not work for all of us. I like the idea that people can be exposed to alot of different diets and pick and choose what they like and what works for them. This, hopefully, is one of those articles. I think the fact that you’ve listened to your body should be celebrated and commended. You’re doing something good, no matter what the specifics. 🙂

  10. A very thought-provoking idea. I will return to your blog again soon.

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