My Kitchen Rules chef and paleo fanatic Pete Evans is no stranger to controversy. Here are seven times when he was particularly ignorant.
1. When He Co-Authored a Dangerous Paleo Cookbook for Kids
The book, titled Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way, included a recipe for infant formula containing bone broth and liver – which doctors feared would be potentially life-threatening if given to young babies.
After the publisher shelved the book, Evans released a digital version with an updated recipe, apparently based on a formula by the late Dr Mary G. Enig that has been shared “millions of times over”. This is the same Dr Enig who suggested coconut oil could be used to treat HIV and AIDS.
2. When He Claimed He Knew Better Than the World Health Organisation
In 2015, the World Health Organisation released a report which found that many meats are carcinogenic and put processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as cigarettes and asbestos.
“Paleo Pete” responded to these findings by stating, “[W]ill I still be eating meat and feeding it to my family. … YES”. Because a TV chef knows better than doctors and scientists, apparently!
We’ll just leave this here:
“Since 2011, Bowel Cancer Australia has adhered to the position of the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which concluded there is convincing evidence that consumption of red meat and processed meat are causes of bowel cancer.”
– Bowel Cancer Australia spokesperson
3. When He Suggested a Paleo Diet Could Prevent Autism
Evans took to Facebook to pen an insensitive 2,100-word rant about how switching to a “caveman”-style diet would prevent an unbelievably wide range of medical conditions – including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism. Getting his figures completely wrong, the chef claimed that autism rates have risen to one in 50. The actual figure, as of 2014, was one in 100.
World-recognised autism expert Professor Cheryl Dissanayake has been researching the disorder for 30 years and quickly debunked the claims made by Evans – as did a number of other leading researchers.
4. When He Said Vegan Women Would Struggle to ‘Reproduce’
It seems that potentially risking babies’ lives with his gross liver and bone broth formula didn’t put Evans off giving parenting advice. In another of his exhausting Facebook rants, he claimed that it would be “dangerous” for women not to eat “animal fat” while trying to conceive.
Vegan mothers across Australia responded in droves, posting photos of their healthy babies – and brilliant articles and interviews popped up on sites like Mamamia and Kidspot, highlighting the ludicrousness of Evans’ unsubstantiated opinions.
And, as always, health professionals who are actually qualified to give advice on such matters made sure to stress that vegan eating is perfectly healthy for conception and pregnancy.
5. When He Decided Sunscreen Was ‘Poisonous’
The Cancer Council certainly recommends sunscreen use to prevent deadly melanoma. ‘Nuff said.
6. When He Posted Gruesome Dead Animal Pictures as ‘Food’ Posts
A photo posted by Pete Evans (@chefpeteevans) on May 2, 2015 at 4:36pm PDT
As compassionate people know, animals are #FriendsNotFood. In our society of abundant food options, there’s simply no excuse to eat the flesh of an animal who did not want to die.
Putting aside Evans’ unqualified “health claims” for a moment – can’t he look at these images and see the horror in them? Very few people would be able to take the life of an animal, and this chef’s Instagram snaps are definitely more “grotesque” than “gourmet”.
A photo posted by Pete Evans (@chefpeteevans) on Jun 4, 2016 at 6:31pm PDT
7. When He Said ‘Any Publicity Is Fantastic Publicity’
Judging by the many, many references to his books, products, and services which are not-so-subtly littered throughout his Facebook rants, it seems that in chasing profits, Evans may also be underestimating the intelligence of the Australian public.
When asked how he feels about the controversy surrounding his dubious claims, he said, “Any publicity is fantastic publicity”. However, increasing numbers of people are waking up to the cruelty and unsustainability of raising animals for food and would rather save animals and the planet than line Evans’ pockets.
Is There Hope?
Evans may be evangelistic about spreading the message that eating animal flesh is necessary for good health – however, we believe that he, like all of us, has within him the capacity to change his lifestyle to one that is more compassionate. Here’s why:
1. He Cares About Some Animals
Evans has a gorgeous rescued cat, Anaïs, and regularly posts adorable pictures of her on Instagram:
A photo posted by Pete Evans (@chefpeteevans) on Feb 3, 2016 at 12:22pm PST
Choosing to rescue Anaïs, rather than purchasing a cat from a pet shop or breeder, shows that Evans understands the importance of combating our overpopulation problem and saving the lives of animals who might otherwise languish in shelters or face euthanasia.
He also has a dog and posts lots of other animal snaps on social media. We hope that one day, he will make the decision to extend this compassion for animals to all living beings – including the animals he currently promotes as being “food”.
2. He Cares About His Health and His Family’s Health
Evans is extremely health-focused and often mentions his children as one of his biggest motivations for promoting the “caveman” lifestyle.
The paleo diet already shuns many unhealthy and cruelly produced dairy foods. However, it still includes foods which can be problematic for human health. Eating a single egg per week may almost double your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and animal flesh can lead to an increased risk of cancer as well as increases in cholesterol and saturated fat.
3. He Cares About the Environment
Evans has been very vocal about his concerns for the environment. But perhaps he should learn more about how animal agriculture is destroying the planet.
The bottom line is that we do not need to eat animal-derived foods to be healthy. In fact, we can thrive on a delicious plant-based diet. Not only does eating meat support hellish conditions for animals, it’s also destroying our planet.
If you’re looking to make more compassionate choices and want to try vegan eating, make sure to take advice from qualified dieticians and doctors, rather than TV chefs.
The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states the following:
“[A]ppropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”