Frequently asked questions.
Is Whole Foods, Plant-Based just another name for the diet called Clean Eating?
I don’t know much about Clean Eating. That diet may be similar, but I think the Whole Foods, Plant-Based name is more descriptive, educational and medically accurate. Clean Eating doesn’t really describe WHAT people should be eating and the name lends itself to multiple interpretations. It also sounds like it encourages food disorders such as the obsession with purity and cleanliness. In the real world, healthy food is grown in soils that are dirty, full of micro-organisms and much more. This blog will go into this important subject in future posts.
What is your take on the Low Carb Diet?
I think that it is mostly a fad diet which isn’t grounded in sound nutrition or science. It also deprives people from the pleasures of enjoying carb-based foods, which are popular in our culture and are essential to a healthy, plant-based diet. The Low Carb diet is like many fad diets, in that it frames a specific type of food as some kind of enemy or poison, which if avoided religiously, will lead to weight loss and/or better health. Many people can’t adhere to this kind of prohibition for the rest of their lives, so defections from the diet are common. A sustainable, healthy diet has to be based on a food and exercise regimen that you can do for years without thinking much about it.
Ironically, the Low Carb diet has produced healthy benefits for people on it, for reasons that are obvious, if not accidental. Some recent research found that people on the Low Carb diet were losing weight and becoming more healthy, mostly because they were cooking and preparing more fresh food from scratch, while eating less processed foods and heavy restaurant meals. If you think about it, most popular restaurant meals in America revolve around carbs, such as pizza, burgers, pasta, and tortillas. Most snacks are carb-based. If you are “avoiding carbs,” you are more inclined to prepare food at home and eat more fruits and vegetables. So, in a sense, the Low Carb diet is successful because it incorporates some of the WFPB dietary philosophy.
When I was on theKU Weight Loss Diet in 2017, it included some pasta in the prepared entrees. When I transition fully to a WFPB diet, I will try to stick with whole wheat pastas, desserts, and breads.
Are there other diets that are similar to the WFPB, vegan and HMR (KU plan) diets?
There are several diets that are healthy and sustainable like the WFPB diet. They include the Mediterranean Diet, The Flexitarian Diet, the Volumetrics Diet and more. The HMR diet has been listed as one of the best “Fast Weight Loss Diets”.
Are you fucking kidding me? There are so many diets that actually work, and you want to go on a fad diet? You can’t eat tubers? WTF? Look, this kind of diet might make sense for somebody with a very specific health issue, but if you are looking to avoid heart problems, diabetes, hypertension and most of the common health problems, go on a diet that is healthy and works.
What about high fat diets?
The medical research and science are very clear about one thing: high fat consumption, over long periods, is unhealthy for you. A high fat diet like Atkins helps some people who are extremely overweight lose pounds quickly, which is a good thing, but you can’t stay on that diet long term. You will have to eat your veggies, at every meal. You cannot bacon your way to healthy living.
How long have you been a vegetarian?
I have been an ovo-lacto vegetarian since the summer of 1989. Most of that time I was eating a diet that was mostly not meat. I wasn’t always eating healthy, although I never ate much junk food.
Do you ever eat meat?
For the past 3 years, I eat seafood once in a while, always away from the house. I don’t allow any meat in my house for personal consumption. I may eat seafood once every two months, so not very often. I still consider myself a vegetarian, as that is my daily diet and is how to perceive food choices throughout each day.
Why did you become a vegetarian?
I became a vegetarian by going cold turkey on giving up meat one year after I had finished college. It was actually quite easy, despite the vegetarian options being more limited in those days. It helped that my mother has been a lifelong vegetarian, so the family was supportive. I was also considering joining a housing co-op when I went to grad school in Madison, Wisconsin. Most housing co-ops there were vegetarian or veg-friendly. I also had some unpleasant experiences with junk food containing meat.
The other reasons why I gave up meat where: 1) to eat a more healthy diet; 2) because I never liked meat or meat dishes; and 3) in solidarity with small farmers during the farm crisis of that era.
Did you experience health benefits even from your non-WFPB vegetarian diet?
Definitely! I attribute decades of vegetarian diet for my good health at this stage in my life. I’ve had few health problems over the years. People always think I’m younger than I am. Doctors are amazed that I don’t take as many medications as people in my age cohort.
But one thing that I noticed over the years is that when I was on a healthier version of a vegetarian diet, similar to what’s now called a WFPB diet, I felt even better and healthier!
THE HISTORY OF VEGETARIANISM AND PLANT-BASED DIETS
While the history of vegetarianism goes back more than a century, I want to describe the plant-based eras of the past half century.
The Meat and Potatoes Era – This would be vegetarianism in the mid-20th century in the U.S., basically before the late 60s. I often describe my octogenarian vegetarian mother as a “meat and potatoes vegetarian” because she has been a lifelong ovo-lacto vegetarian since she was a teenager. Vegetarians during these years were probably eating more plant-based than later generations of vegetarians, mainly because there were no chain restaurants and they were adapting recipes to locally fresh fruits and vegetables. At the same time, my mom has related how she could only eat baked potatoes and salad when she went out to eat. Thus, the “meat and potatoes” years, which didn’t have many options when eating out and the daily diet was a plant-based variation of the standard American diet (SAD).
The Hippy Era -The late 60s and early 70s saw a big revival of interest in vegetarianism, as young Baby Boomers started changing the vegetarian lifestyle with new cookbooks and restaurants. But if you look at recipes from this era, they were often very heavy on dairy products. So much cheese!
The Tofu Years – I often describe myself a a “Tofu Vegetarian”. Went veg in 1989, but it was still the ovo-lacto variety. Vegetarian recipes in the 80s were still very heavy on dairy, but tofu was seen as the main meat substitute. Vegetarian options at restaurants were still mostly non-existent. Veganism was a new thing.
Veggie Burger Decade – The 1990s were the “meat substitute” or “meat analog” years, when veggie burgers and similar options became more available in *some* grocery stores. You started to find veggie burgers on some restaurant menus, but vegetarian and plant-based options were still hard to find at restaurants and chains.
Vegan Era – This could be described as the late 1990s to present.
Plant-Based Era – This is the last decade, the 2010s, where there has been a big movement to switch from processed “vegetarian” food to plant-based and vegan diets. Plant-based options are more widely available at restaurants. Ironically, all the chains and many restaurants have gone for vegetarian burger options.
Photographer: Skitter Photo