13 March 2023
I received an article in my email the other day entitled, “I Didn’t Eat Meat for a Year. Here’s Why I’m Eating It Again. ” It was a decent article, written by a Registered Dietitian, but I can’t help feeling annoyed by the clickbait nature of the title. To me, the title suggests that meat is necessary, even though the article describes only the unexpected ways it is important for the author.
Confusion abounds around terms that describe our way of eating (by the way, “diet” does not mean restriction, but rather the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community eat) so let’s clarify:
Vegan – this refers to a lifestyle without the use of any animal products (not even honey!) but makes no claims about health or wholeness of a diet.
Plant based – As a grammar geek, I’ve always thought of this by the dictionary definition, “(of food or a diet) consisting largely or solely of vegetables, grains, , or other foods derived from plants, rather than animal products.” But some take the term to mean “whole food plant based”, which means a diet consisting solely of whole (unprocessed) plant foods (fruits, vegetables, intact whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes) and excluding oils.
Flexitarian – contrary to how it sounds, it is not a free-for-all. It can be thought of as semi-vegetarian, where the adopter consumes mainly plant foods, with occasional or smaller amounts of animal foods (dairy, fish, poultry, meat).
Plant Forward – the term I prefer, with plants being the star of the plate with occasional animal-based “garnish” (small portion).
Now the good news: adding more vegetables (French fries don’t count!), fruits and whole grains to your diet in any context has significant health benefits. Three of the top 10 leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, diabetes) could be largely prevented by a plant forward diet. Also, there’s quality of life: whole plant foods are associated with less chronic disease and better mental health.
I know there’s tremendous potential. The average American adult consumes only 2 ½ of the recommended 3 ½ - 6 ½ servings per day of fruits and vegetables. Start where you are – add those veggies! I can almost guarantee it will add years to your life and life to your years. I’d love to hear from you...how are you going to add more plant foods to your day today?