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A Conversation With Raw Feeding Pioneer, Dr Nick Thompson – Podcast 28

On this week’s Podcast, Rowan and Mark are joined by the fantastic, Dr Nick Thompson. With over 30 years of veterinary experience, Nick is a true pioneer within the world of raw feeding and has a wealth of knowledge, which we are over the moon about being able to share with you!

For more information on Nick and the topics covered in this episode, please visit the following links; www.rfvs.info , www.holisticvet.co.uk and https://www.facebook.com/RawFeedingVets/

2:05 How Nick Discovered Raw Feeding

9:00 The Simplicity of Raw

11:12 How Has the Perception of Raw Feeding Changed?

15:52 Nicks Definition of a Holistic Vet

22:10 Give Raw a Chance (for two weeks!)

24:28 Funding Research into Raw Feeding

25:07 Rowan Recaps!

29:43 The Plan Moving Forward!

Rowan:          Yeah, okay. We’re recording. Mark Scott, welcome.


Mark:             Rowan, how are you?


Rowan:          I am awesome. I’m very, very excited about our guest this week. I can say so very openly, without being obsequious. We have got Dr. Nick Thompson on our podcast. Doctor Nick, welcome.


Nick:              Hey guys, lovely to see you. How are you?


Mark:             Very good. And we met Nick, oh, probably about two and a half years ago in that lovely town of Bath where you are based. I came to one of your events which was brilliant. And there’s lots about bone broth at that event, it was brilliant. So thanks for coming on, I’ve been wanting to get you on for a while. You’re a busy man.


Nick:              It’s pretty crazy. Doing lots of talks in Munich and Finland in September, and then Prague in November and then Australia in February next year. People really, really, really want to hear about the raw thing.


You know what I say to people is, the raw thing is the easiest sell in the world because you just need to put your dog onto raw food for a couple of weeks and your dog will tell you how amazing it is. You’ll see changes, in their skin, with the poohs, with the level of energy. It’s like selling water in the Sahara. This is the greatest job in the world that I have. I just love it. And it’s a gift for you to ask me to come and talk to you guys about it. So thank you for giving me that opportunity, it’s very exciting.


Mark:             So how did you get into raw then Nick? So obviously you started, you’ve been a vet for over 20 years. What took you down the path of actually raw?


Nick:              I’ve been in veterinary medicine for 32 years my friend.


Mark:             Oh.


Rowan:          Hang on, can we just bookmark this? This is our cue Mark to say — no Nick you don’t look possibly old enough for that.


Mark:             So Nick, you’ve been a veterinary for over 32 years, which obviously you don’t look like you possibly could be.


Nick:              Yeah, I started vet college in ’86 is the bottom line. So yeah. So seen a lot of things in that time. You were saying how did I start with raw? Well, I mean it’s interesting because at vet college you get taught how to feed cows quite well because when you get it wrong with cows, dairy cows this is, your fertility drops and the bottom drops out of the dairy industry. So there’s a lot of work that’s done with teaching vets the principles of nutrition through dairy cows. But when it comes to small animal nutrition, you don’t get taught a whole lot. And the problem is I think that basically many vets think that nutrition is below them and that they are very happy to let somebody else do it, so one of the big food companies, let them do it. That’s a real shame.


But I’m going off on a tangent because you were saying, how did I get into it? So I came out of college. Very happy to feed the big food companies, I’m not going to mention any names. Because that’s all I knew. And then I went into practice with Mark Elliot down on the south coast after three years and we began to look at nutrition more and more there. And then the time that I actually first engaged with it was in the mid nineties when one of the guys that I was studying homeopathy with, he came back from Australia and said — hey, I’ve just found this crazy white book, and it’s called “The BARF Diet,” and there’s another one called “Grow Your Pups with Bones.” I kind of looked at it and for the maybe first year I was just like, oh yeah, yeah, whatever, whatever, it’s just a crazy Australian idea.


But then one day it just struck me how obvious it is feed dogs raw. Because that was how they’ve been evolved to eat. It suddenly the light went on. Okay. I’m pretty dim because it did take me, I don’t know four years, from being qualified to actually seeing the light. However, there you go. That’s it. And it’s been just a joy since then Rowan.


Rowan:          Nick, can I ask you just as a comedy moment. Isn’t this bizarre, right, that we’re three grown, intelligent adults who are all on this mission and we need a book to actually switch a light bulb on for us to go — hang on, that’s an animal which has evolved doing this, it shouldn’t be eating Kellogg’s cornflakes.


Mark:             Or any kind of breakfast cereal.




Rowan:          If you actually take a step outside of it, just for a moment, it’s utter madness. I mean it is utterly bonkers.


Mark:             You got on to that path then Nick, is that because you saw patients repeatedly and couldn’t get to the bottom of it? Obviously the book after many years…


Nick:              Yeah, good question. Initially it was just a revelation that this is correct. Just that was it.


Mark:             Common sense.


Nick:              Common sense. And back in those days there were no complete diets available. So got in touch with some of the guys who were producing meat and I created long ago, created big diet sheets saying, right, this is your veggies, this is your meat, this is why you’re doing it, this is what you do with the chicken wings. And I used those for probably 15 years or so until 2010 or so. Because back in the good old days you’d have to create the diet yourself. People were so desperate then for great nutrition that they would totally do that. So that’s where I cut my teeth and then you guys come along and make it really easy because you’ve do all the hard work.

Rowan:          Kudos to you Nick for being a forerunner of this…

Mark:             Absolutely.

Rowan:          — helping bring common sense back in to humanity in dog feeding.

Mark:             We like to say common sense isn’t common practice.

Rowan:          Yeah, exactly.


Nick:              Yeah totally right. I really appreciate that Rowan That’s really good of you to say. But what else can you do? When you’ve seen the light it’s very difficult to ignore it.


Rowan:          You don’t take the blue pill and go back into the matrix. You just don’t do that. Not unless you’re going to lie to yourself.


Nick:              Completely, right. So you can’t do it. Yeah, so there you go. That’s where we find ourselves. And you know, I thought when all the complete started coming out, I thought, okay, that’s it, I’m going to be out of a job, people are just going to go with that. But people are really interested in nutrition, people want to know about it.


So I’ve gone from being primarily guiding the individual as to how to make a diet into education and trying to raise awareness all over the country, all over the world sometimes to tell people about this really simple way of feeding. One of the beauties is the results, that is perhaps the most beautiful thing about it. But the really great thing they don’t tell anyone is that it’s really simple. It’s really simple.


Rowan:          This is resonating at a cellular level with me. One, I’m really excited to speak to like minded people who are on a mission. Two, this is exactly the angle I came out with the The Modern Sensei, our online human practice with it, is, people look at it and they go — oh, I didn’t realize. It’s like, I don’t want to dispel the magic, none of this is rocket science. If we stop eating beige and doing stuff which is killing us and just start looking at what we put in our mouths becomes our cells and we don’t need to fight fires if we don’t keep setting fire to them. Oh, I’m loving that, people.


Mark:             I just noticed that. [laughter]


Rowan:          That’s a golden moment, Nick.


But yeah, so honestly I have nothing but respect and Kudos for you frankly. It’s like a salve to Mark and I, SALVE, when we get validation and confirmation from everything we believe in and everything we’re trying to do from somebody who has such extensive, incredible experience, not just anecdotally, but clinical as well. I think, you know, together we all get to be a force for positive and to actually get people… You know these people who are not early adopters who were a little bit — “but hang on grain is a whole food group.” No it’s not, it’s like giving your dog cigarettes. I think when we get to get people like you on board, it helps us do our job better, which is save more dogs and it helps you more. So I see as pushing this boulder all in the same direction.


Mark:             So Nick…


Nick:              Yeah, very, very much.


Mark:             — if you were on the First Class train from King’s Cross to Edinburgh and you were sitting opposite another veterinary person in the raw feeding game, how’s that conversation go now compared to maybe three years, five years, 10 years. How have you seen it generally across vets? Because I noticed obviously the Raw Feed Veterinary Society, which you’re president of, which I think is brilliant and I would love to see definitely more vets joining there because we would want to promote the hell out of it. How would that conversation go now on the way up to Edinburgh?


Nick:              That’s really interesting and I’m going to take us out of the train for two seconds and just say, I remember going to vet shows, the London Vet show and BSAVA when vets would actually come along and give you verbal abuse at the stand. Okay. When you were just trying to have a reasonable conversation. I have seen that and that has transformed. I haven’t had that experience in the last five years or so. On the contrary. Actually now the raw food stands can be some of the busiest stands at these shows. So that’s how it’s changed. There are still detractors, there are still vets, mainly in the States, but there are still some in this country, a very small minority who are just anti, anti, anti. Most vets in this country are either kind of neutral or they are slightly interested, but they’re busy with what they’re doing and this is just another thing for them to take on board.


So the veterinary profession is changing. And I would use this opportunity to say, check us out the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society — rfvs.info. Come and say hi. And talk with your veterinary colleagues about raw feeding, what’s their experience? We’ve got about 110 members now all over the world, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, South America all over Europe, Ireland, we’ve got colleagues in the States. And we’re all talking about the same thing and they’re all really, really excited. South Africans, we’ve got a few South Africans. So super exciting, you know, this is no longer a niche, ooh they’re funny vets or they’re going to kill dogs. That conversation has gone and we are now engaging with anybody who wants to chat with us. We’re having the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society International Conference at Manchester Airport. We are having some…


Rowan:          Is this November time Nick?


Nick:              It is yes, yes. It’s November 10th and at the moment it’s only open to vets and vet nurses and vet techs, but if we have any seats left, we’re going to open that up to breeders it and health professionals, because we want to have a major discourse. So really, really exciting.


Mark:             That’s brilliant.


Rowan:          So I’d love to be part of that if there is a seat available? I’d love to come and help spread the message whether it be through podcast or Facebook live.


Nick:              Yeah.


Rowan:          Whatever we can do, and as you were speaking I was listening to this and I just thought — Mark, you and I really need to get on board and link up with these people. What we’ve talked about, what is golden is, is not simply influencing people for the positive who have got a dog or coming to us as a port of last resort because the dog’s really ill, but actually at a point of influence with breeders and with vets, so that disseminates and we get to actually get this message out more effectively to more people. Why? Because it fits with our mission of saving as many dogs lives as possible and radically improving their health span whilst they’re alive.


Mark:             Just jumping on that because I want to take one step back. Because Nick you call yourself a holistic vet. Now I know what holistic means, but I think maybe there’s a lot of people that don’t and I think could you give me a definition of what holistic is from your point of view?


Nick:              OK. How long have you got mate? All good, all good. Holism — and it’s a much bandied word these days — but in its purest form in its essence it’s looking at an entire situation, not just taking an element of a given phenomenon and concentrating on that. For example — if you came to me with a dog who had loose poohs, has had for the last six months. So yeah, so it’s a chronic situation, dog is fine, but the poohs are not great. The non-holistic view of that might be just too to look at say, oh have we got an infection, where there is some inflammation, therefore here’s some steroids that will take down the steroid. Here’s an antibiotic just in case there’s some disruption of the gut bugs. And just have a very narrow approach to that.


My approach to it would be to say — right, let’s have a look at the diet that you’re on at the moment. Let’s have a look at where we would like to go with the diet. And that would be either a raw or perhaps a fresh food diet, getting away from kibble and high carb, high cereal diets. We would be looking at your vaccination protocols in order to minimize exposure to vaccine. I’m not saying don’t vaccinate, I’m saying let’s minimize. I’d be saying, let’s look at our pesticides because I think we overuse pesticide drop ons, and to have vets have a look at our worming policy, getting checked for worms instead of just going with a wormer, wormer, wormer. Let’s have a look at the house environment. Let’s look at the whole thing. So that’s a very long way of saying holism is everything.


There is a wonderful older colleague called Carvel Tiekert, wonderful name, who was the president of the American Holistic Veterinary Medicines Association and he once said — “holistic medicine is anything that works.”




Rowan:          You know I kind of like that. I’m listening to this and I feel this comforting sense of relief, that sanity abounds. And it might not be the predominant flavor in the universe right now, but at least I know there is hope. I feel like Star Wars The New Hope.




Rowan:          — to look at it as an echoing exactly what you’re saying Nick, because this totally resonates with me, is simply addressing any simple… any form of stressor on the dogs’ biology. So whether it’s environmental, whether it’s internal, whether it’s external or whether it’s emotional, whether it’s whichever. Just addressing and neutralizing all of these inputs so that we’re not dealing with that bad output. And if I can just going back to what you were saying about vets and being angry and not being angry and how it’s evolved. It did amuse me the other day when a vet had posted, and I’m not into vet bashing. Vets have joined this…


Nick:              I agree.


Rowan:          — beautiful profession to actually save dogs’ lives. They may not all be up to speed on what we believe is the right way to do it yet, but I think we’ve got far more gain by being collaborative than competitive or conflictual. So…


Mark:             We all want to do things.


Rowan:          Together we’re stronger. Together we’re stronger and we know with influences with just some sane arguments rather than conspiracy theories and the rest. Then we stand to have a better platform to get our message out and to address our mission.


Nick:              Yeah.


Rowan:          In fact, the other day, with this really pokey — as you very nicely said in your video from a point of bias when you were talking about the BBC article — saying, what’s the proof on what you’re doing? Show me the research papers.


Now, I didn’t rise to the bait, but my inner Rowan, the angry Rowan wanted to say — tell you what, why don’t you show me some fucking proof that what you’re doing is not killing dogs, when we’ve got pancreatitis gone up in the UK alone by 780 percent. Is there not a rabbit off here? Has somebody not said — hang on, we need to address something.


Nick: There is a lack of hard data to support our position. And when I’m talking hard data, I’m talking net analysis of many, many, many studies. But, you know what, when penicillin first came out, there were no studies on the use of penicillin. And now look at all the studies we have on antibiotics, for better or for worse.


But, you know, pioneer ideas about anything start from a paucity of information. And the proof of the pudding for me is try your dog a couple of weeks on a raw food diet, and then make a decision. Because the dog will convince you with great teeth, with great skin, with great bowels, great smell, great energy. You know, don’t believe me. Don’t believe anybody. Talk to your dog. Your dog will tell you what’s what.


Rowan:          And mood as well. If we think the inflammation that kibble must create and the intestinal permeability is letting all that bacteria covered in inflammatory lipopolysaccharides, circle round, inflame the dog’s brain and say — my dog’s really nervous, it’s really shy, it’s really… — everybody goes, all of a sudden my dog’s a lot calmer. No shit.


Obviously, are you not worried that all of this protein will make it angry?


Mark:             No. [laughs]


Rowan:          No.


Nick:              It’s not theory. This is not theory. There are millions of dogs who have converted over. So in effect, there is data. There is epidemiological data. Billinghurst was on our Facebook group the other day. And there is the data. It’s just a question of collecting it. And Ana — there’s a wonderful researcher in Helsinki University, Anaheim, Bjorkman —


Rowan:          Oh, yes.


Nick:              And she is doing [inaudible][23:20] She is asking people to tell her about their journey with raw, and she’s trying to collate it. She’s got 40 or so papers worth of data and she just hasn’t got the money to process that data. So…


Rowan:          We need to help that [inaudible]


Nick:              There’s loads to be done. Yep. Yep. She would love you to help. Because there are now lots and lots of raw food companies, and if everybody paid a few quid to Anna at Helsinki University — I’ll put you in touch — it will give us the data that we can then use to help us to put more science into something that we see on an empirical basis, on a daily, daily, daily basis.


Mark:             Because here’s [inaudible][24:11] — because here’s the point.


Who is going to fund this? Like, if it’s not people like ourselves funding it, who’s got the motivation to fund it? You know, I understand it from a human [inaudible][24:24] NHS goes — we need to fund this because we pay [inaudible] human — but we don’t pay for a dog’s vet bill as a public… Privately, we have to do it. So, unless we do it ourselves, no one’s going to actually do this.


Rowan:          Totally.


Oh, sorry guys.


Just to recap on this, it’s quite interesting. I often look at kind of like the — and we’ll call it the kibble, the Kibble Lobby versus the Raw Feeding Lobby — and I’m really super keen to avoid turning this into a religion. I think it’s just the former dogma and current enlightenment. It’s not about black and white. Everybody’s on that journey.


But I think quite often when people have been very skeptical about this — and I see this with… For instance, I’ll take a quick analogy of what I see on the human side and then I’ll look at, as I call it, the health map — is that people come in and see us and quite often they’re overweight, diabetic, they’ve just had a stroke, they’ve got poor energy, and they express an enormous amount of skepticism to radically changing what they’re doing because they’ll say — yeah, but you need this for this.


And it’s like when I speak to Mum, she goes — oat, oats, but they’re good for your energy.


It’s like — Mum, you’re about to have your gallbladder removed; you’ve got this; you’ve got these blood issues, and your energy is really poor; why don’t you just try it for two weeks and come back to me.


Exactly what you’re saying. And it’s almost like you’ve got all these people who are lost somewhere in Ipswich, kind of like with both eyes covered, like the valley of the one eyed man is… etc. — and they are giving you advice on how to get to Paris and they’re not there.


And yet the raw feeding [26:14][inaudible] is in Paris saying — hey, come and join us. This is the way to Paris — and yet everybody say — yeah, but there’s no proof that…


Look. They’re there. They’re healthy. The dog skin’s getting better. Come and join us. It’s not exclusive. This is a path for everyone.


I don’t know if that analogy was a bit clumsy?


Nick:              No, I’m with you. I’m with you. I hope everybody is with you on that one. It’s a good analogy. One of the many beauties of the raw food lobby, of the raw food phenomenon, is that it’s not driven by industry and it’s not driven by vets. It’s actually driven by people at home initially wanting better health, and then actually seeing better health in their dog, because they’ve made this simple change.


Rowan:          And it’s true that it’s by people. This is people’s revolution. It’s perfect. I love it. It’s brilliant.


Mark:             This is what social networking sites have allowed us to do now. It’s allowed us to communicate with each other so much easier on so many different fronts. The big conglomerates can’t hide it anymore. It just can’t bury it. I don’t even read the newspaper so you can publish as many articles in there as you want, dissing one thing or another. But the point is, the proof’s in the pudding when we have so many reviews of people saying — I was treating my dog skin for this for years and years, and three weeks on food, it’s gone or it’s going or it’s improving, just, that, that is the best evidence out there.


Nick:              They’re not making this stuff up. They are seeing it with their own eyes. That — it’s a wonderful thing, and it’s really simple thing. But one of the beauties of — I keep on saying that — one of the beauties of raw is it’s really simple. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s complicated. It’s not.


And if you’ve got a great company producing good food for you, it’s even simpler.


Rowan:          Yeah, and you know Nick, that’s a really lovely way of seeing it. It’s actually from a selfish perspective, super rewarding as well. I’m sure as a vet, you must find it a lot more rewarding and having people come to you and going — do you know what? I’ve tried it and all my dog’s symptoms have gone away.


Nick:              They love it. I love it.


Rowan:          [inaudible][28:39] constantly giving people bad news, and maybe some medication to manage the parachute down. I think one of my most rewarding moments this year was, we did this discussion about anti-inflammatory protocols and using CBD oil and the rest of it, and somebody used it for a week and messaged me and said — Rowan, thank you so much, my dog’s actually running around as if it was 10 years younger.


I was like, oh wow — this is what we’re doing it for. It’s not complicated. It’s not complicated. Let’s just get on board.


Mark:             So where do you see… Nick. Obviously you’ve had this, pushing the train slowly, slowly, slowly, now it’s getting momentum. Twelve months, three years — where do you see it? Where do you see yourself? What’s the plan going forward?


Nick:              Whoa.


Honest truth. Because… Because I would not have predicted this when I was first talking to just the raw meat producers, I would not have predicted what we’ve got now. We’ve got — there are how many Death Row Raw registered raw producers are there? It’s gone to 80, 90, yeah? Six years ago, there was kind of eight. So it’s taking off.


And so if I’m using my crystal ball just for one second, I think that there will be more science. Anna will be able to produce more through papers. I think that the veterinary community is going to come together more, which will add credibility. Veterinary community — veterinary raw feeding community is going to come together more and more and more. I think that a more vets and more academics will be seeing the usefulness of raw as a therapeutic tool. And I think it’s going to be just more of the same. Because at the moment, the raw feeding world is just going crazy. In a good way. It’s expanding. There’s much more choice. The quality is always rising.


Knowledge of how to feed and when to feed and what to feed is gaining. People like Rowan are bringing over wonderful data from the human experience, which is incredibly valuable. Rowan, I salute you. Thank you.


Rowan:          Thank you.


Nick:              And it’s just really exciting.


Because, stress in veterinary medicine is a really big problem. There’s a lot of talk about stress, but I find that one of the big and best anti-stress elements of my job is hearing these incredible simple tales day after day after day. You know — that keeps me going. I’m absolutely delighted with that.


And to be a small cog in that machine is just glorious. I love it.


Mark:             So I would love to get —


Rowan:          Awesome. Nick. I’m loving this. I am totally loving this. Sorry, for what it’s worth from my big old heart on this, I am absolutely awash with gratitude. I’m so excited about what we’re doing.


Nick:              Bless you. Bless you.


Mark:             I would love to, going forward, Nick, is to get you on a few more times if you’re cool with that. Because there’s so much stuff. We’re holding back, holding back. We’re all holding back here. I think there’s so many things. We could be really clear. And now we have a ton of questions, everything from pancreatitis, right through to itchy skin to vaccinations. I mean, we could just go on and on and on.


Rowan:          And Mark’s deliberately — he needs to eat more raw because he’s always… He’s got an inflamed syllable around “pancreatitis” —


Mark:             [laughs] Yeah, no… so that’s brilliant. So the best place to come find you Nick? On your website?


Nick:              My personal website is holisticvet.co.uk. Thank you for the plug. I would have forgotten that because I’m the worst businessman in the world. I could tell you. So, holisticvet.co.uk — come and see what we’re up to. If you’re a vet or a vet nurse or vet tech or a veterinary assistant [inaudible] there in the states that are veterinary assistance guys, just so, so, so welcome. RFVS.info — Raw Feeding Veterinary Society — come and check us out. If you are not a veterinary professional and you’re interested in what we’re doing and come and interact with us, we have a Facebook group. I don’t like Facebook any more than you do, but it’s a necessary evil, and it’s a way that we can all talk together. So we have a public discussion group for the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society, so that’s really exciting so come along to that. Anybody wants to come along.


Mark:             We’ll have a link in the show notes as well.


Nick:              OK. That’s really, really great. Thank you.


You know, it sounds like we’re kind of wrapping up. Just keep on feeding raw food, telling your friends about the results that you see. Tell them, just In all honesty, exactly what you see. Tell them how you were scared when you started. Tell them how things changed very rapidly. Tell them how your dog used be fussy with food. Tell them how your dog now cannot get enough of this raw food.


Because, you, the average person — not average, but you know what I’m saying — you, the person who’s feeding the dog, you are the greatest evangelist for this. Because people listen to me and go — oh yeah, yeah, he would say that — you can go out there and you can convert dozens and dozens of people. People down the park, talk to them.


Rowan:          And this is it. Let’s all get to Paris, and then we can give people directions on how to get there. Just get there. Let’s just get to the mecca of health, and live it and be it, and be inspirational and inspired, and we can share it with others.


Nick:              That’s really good. I would love to come back and talk to you more. We have only just scratched the surface. Like, point-one percent of possible discussions — that’s all we’ve done.


Rowan:          Oh, I’m trying to keep a lid on myself because I feel like fox with too many tricks, or rather, a Rowan with too many questions. I would love to cover pancreatitis. I want to discuss gut microbiome with you, itchy skin, types of bacteria, using digestive enzymes to bring down inflammation, using them systemically. All of this, I’d love to get your erudite and clinical experience on, just so we can help more people. Please.


Nick:              For sure. For sure. Let’s do it. Let’s do it.


Rowan:          I’m in.


Mark:             Brilliant. Well thanks again Nick. Have a safe trip if we don’t speak to you before.


Nick:              Yeah. Let’s catch up soon. That’d be really great. Guys, it’s been absolutely fantastic. Rowan, it’s great to meet you for the first time.


Rowan:          Likewise.


Nick:              If you’re up here in the UK and you don’t come and see us, I’ll never speak to you again.


Rowan:          Done. That’s a debt. [laughs]


Mark:             And on that point…


Nick:              It’s been great guys. Thank you.

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