In a promotional appearance at a suburban Maryland bookstore, Dr. Neal Barnard (president of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) presented a variety of odd claims to support the findings of his new book, Turn Off the Fat Genes.

Arguing in favor of a vegan diet, Barnard asserted that “the leanest beef you can buy is 29% fat, and the leanest chicken is about 23% fat.” When reminded that grocers routinely sell ground beef labeled “94% lean,” Barnard retreated somewhat, conceding that he was referring to a percentage of calories from fat rather than percentage by weight.

In a classic non sequitur, Barnard announced: “Americans eat a million chickens per hour, and we’ve never been more out of shape.” He may as well blame the problem on the millions of questionable vegetarian diet books sold in the U.S. each year.
· Barnard on the animal kingdom: “Tell me an animal that you think of as strong. A bull? An elephant? A stallion? They’re all herbivores. Your pet pussycat – now there’s a meat eater.” …to which we must add the following: lions and tigers and bears (not to mention alligators).

In today’s Akron Beacon Journal, Dr. Ellen Kempf of Akron Children’s Hospital sums up Barnard and his group’s crusade against milk: “That’s kind of National Enquirer stuff. It’s not sound or scientifically based.” Sadly, it’s par for the course.