My problem is, if I were to adopt a "whole food, plant based" diet, what would I eat? Seriously. I have only a vague idea what a vegan diet entails, but I'm fairly certain this leads directly back to my Principle #1: "A diet can't be torture." I'm not a good cook, I'm not organized, I'm not a good food shopper or meal planner, and I generally don't care for vegetables. I positively dislike fruit; I'll eat it when it's served to me, but (apart from the sugary apple) I've never cared for it*.
And the small amount of whole milk I add to my coffee, and fish in the form of occasional sushi and smoked salmon, is non-negotiable. I'm not giving up those things and I don't care what Drs. Esselstyn and Campbell say. I don't smoke, I don't do drugs, and I don't drink alcohol. If eating salmon is a sin then I'm a sinner, and there's an end on it. It's not as bad as saying I refuse to give up my Ben and Jerry's**.
On the good side, last night I had a mixed-greens salad in addition to my nightly bowl of rice, and that was tasty. And this morning I added some mixed fruit to my morning oatmeal, and I have to admit it made for a distinct improvement. It seemed so sweet that I probably will cut out the Splenda and sugar.
So, to the vegans, thanks for that.
*At least it's not as bad as Brussels sprouts or beets, however. If I had been the starving caveman who first stumbled upon the Brussells sprout and decided it was quasi-edible in the pinch, I'm sorry, but my band of nomadic hunter-gatherers would have all starved to death, because I would have gone thumbs-down on the Brussels sprout.
**I don't eat ice cream at home on my current diet.
ADDENDUM: Here's a partial list of some of the assertions I read in my traversal of diet and nutrition books:
- Beans are a wonder food and the best way to get all the protein you need on a vegetarian diet.
- Beans are nearly indigestible by humans and responsible for many digestive ills.
- Humans evolved to eat animals and raw plants and haven't been able to evolve to adapt to the produce of husbanded animals (dairy) and domesticated grains and agricultural crops yet.
- Dietary fat is the cause of heart disease and therefore fat-free diets are essential to health. Carbohydrates should be the bedrock of your diet.
- Carbohydrates are terrible for you because they spike your blood sugar and cause an insulin overresponse. A no-carb diet is the best way to lose weight.
- Vegetarian diets are the healthiest.
- Vegetarian diets are extremely unhealthy and can actually result in malnutrition.
- It's calories in, calories out.
- It's all a matter of metabolism.
- We're all human and our bodies are all the same.
- We're all different and respond to dietary inputs in radically different ways.
- Diet is a health issue.
- Diet is a moral issue.
- Diet is personal.
- Diet is cultural.
- You need to eat a big breakfast.
- You should be a vegan until 6 p.m.
- Moderate exercise is crucial to a dietary weight loss plan.
- Moderate exercise has no effect on your weight and weight loss is not the reason to exercise.
- Your instincts will take care of you, so you should eat whatever you want.
- You must avoid all processed foods.
- You should never "graze," nosh, or snack.
- Lots of small meals throughout the day are best.
- Fructose is the "bad half" of sugar and should be avoided at all costs.
- Fructose is found in fruits and therefore makes a good sugar substitute.
- The body treats all kinds of sugar the same.
- Honey, and brown sugar or "raw" sugar are much better for you than table sugar.
- Nuts are high in fat and should be limited.
- Nuts correllate with disease prevention the best of any food.
- Sugar is the cause of the obesity epidemic.
- High fructose corn syrup is the cause of the obesity epidemic.
- Meat and dairy are the cause of the obesity epidemic.
- Carbohydrates, breads, and potatoes are the cause of the obesity epidemic.
- Laziness, lack of exercise, and lack of willpower are the cause of the obesity epidemic.
- Antibiotics are the cause of the obesity epidemic, because they have affected the bacteria in our guts in ways we don't understand.
- Industrial food is the cause of the obesity epidemic, and small, part-time organic farming is our hope for the future.
- "Organic" is a marketing word that's been co-opted by Big Ag and everything associated with it is a fraud and a rip-off.
And the list of contradictions goes on and on....
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
John Gillooly: "My diet has transformed over the last ten years—42 years old now. First, while photographing a nutrition lecture primarily on the evils of sugar, it dawned on me that 14 desserts per week, 6–8 bowls of cereal a day and sugary drinks might not be a good idea! (I was blessed to be eating like that and still be 6'1" and 185 pounds, but lots of diabetic relatives...). I have not had a sugary drink since that day, eliminated cereal and eat maybe 5 desserts per week. Melted 12 pounds in 30 days and never put them back.
"One year ago I went down with diverticulitis. Went to a nutritionist after that episode and his basic advice was: gluten free, dairy free—follow it 80%.
"I melted off another 12 pounds and that's where I sit—6'1", low 160s. Eating lots of salads with tuna, chicken, fish, etc.
"I am a huge fan of the Forks Over Knives/China Study model, but my interpretation of it wasn't to go vegan as much as eat real food and cut down on the overdosing of animal protein. I think the full-on whole-foods plant-based diet is extreme to most people, but if my genetics were such that i was choosing that or insulin by needle and 30 pills per day, I would opt for the whole-foods plant-based diet!"
Rev. Heng Sure: "I'm a Buddhist monk, living in a vegetarian/vegan monastic community in the Bay Area. I started eating a plant-based diet in 1969 and became vegan fifteen years ago. 'Plant-based' is an elegant, disarming label for those who find 'vegetarian' a polarizing, polemical label. Otherwise, I explain that I eat a 'harmless diet,' and if people want clarity I explain that I eat nothing that had a face or a mother, and that I try to satisfy my nutritional needs in a way that causes the least suffering to others. I find that every dietary change that increases awareness of the complex web of conditions that sustain our interdependent lives tends to make that meal nutritious to both body and soul. More power/health to you, Mike!"
Yvonne: "Changes you can make and stick to are the only ones that work. None of us can live up to an ideal: that's the recipe for failure. It's best to keep it real and forget perfection: do what you can. At our age, change is not at all easy. Congrats on what you have accomplished. Seven years ago I changed our diet to low carb. I stopped baking (except for special occasions) and minimized bread consumption. I stopped serving rice, potatoes and pasta, subbing them with extra veg and salads. We still eat cookies (my husband can't live without them) and chocolate, and the odd ice cream. I lost 20 pounds and my high blood pressure; my sweetie lost 10 without trying. He isn't as sensitive to gaining weight on carbs as I am. We've managed to stick to this so I guess the key is: do something you can live with for the rest of your life. That's why celery diets don't work.
"P.S. Nice to find your blog again. It's like catching up with an old friend."
Mike replies: Well hello Yvonne! Long time no hear from. How are things in the garden? [Yvonne is a well-known gardening writer and blogger in Ontario, Canada.]
ZZPhoto: "Yay, another completely irrelevant off-topic 'article.' Exactly what we needed. [Remainder of scornful rant deleted —Ed.]
Paul (partial comment): "I have been enjoying the posts and comments about eating...."