We Are Plant Eaters

Michael Pollan is famous for the following statement, "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much." Those are sentiments that I agree with completely, and I think are the hallmark of the whole food, plant-based lifestyle. I like to be positive and define what it is that we do eat as opposed to what it is that we don't eat.

That's because there is such a large variety of things that we do and can eat. While others may stay away from starches, those of us who follow John McDougall have learned to make starch the centerpiece of our meals. And contrary to what some health professionals and protein pushers tell us, starch is good for us and we can lose weight by eating starch. I've been making starch the centerpiece of my meals for the past 14 months, and I've lost 110 pounds by doing so. Nobody can tell me that you can't lose weight by eating starch.

But this week, Dr. Michael Greger at NutritionFacts.org touched on a subject that I've thought a lot about as well. And that is, that not all fruits and vegetables are the same. I hate to use the term super food mainly because I think it misleads people. I was eating super foods back when I was following the standard American diet, and because I would include a few super foods in my otherwise meat and dairy heavy diet, I thought I was eating healthy. In reality, I was only fooling myself.

But still, some foods really are super foods and it's important to consume them regularly if our goal is to stay healthy through the whole food, plant-based lifestyle. Dr. Greger cites an example of someone who eats a whole banana at breakfast and iceberg lettuce for lunch along with half a cup of cucumber slices and canned peaches.Then at dinner they have a side of peas and carrots along with half a cup of snap peas and another salad. That person has met the US Dietary Guidelines of consuming nine servings of fruits and vegetables for the day.

But, as Dr. Greger points out, that person is nowhere near having met their daily need for antioxidants, which is one of the primary reasons for consuming fruits and vegetables. If instead, that person had eaten blueberries instead of the banana and had eaten red leaf lettuce instead of iceberg lettuce, along with some kidney beans and oregano, then that person would have been way ahead of where they needed to be in terms of meeting their antioxidant levels.

That's why I think that choosing the darkest green and the brightest colored vegetables and greens is so important to maintaining good health on the whole food, plant-based diet. It's also why I include eating beans in the diet every day (and usually twice a day). Beans are powerful medicine for us. And after a while, you do build up a tolerance for them.

I have a website where I propose the following as a standard part of the whole food, plant-based diet. While I'm not a nutritionist, I do solidly believe that this way of eating will provide the best health possible from a plant-based diet:
  • Eating a lot of different varieties of fruit each day
  • Ensuring the inclusion of broccoli and cauliflower in my diet
  • Eating stems and leaves like spinach, artichokes, kale, all varieties of lettuce, cabbage, Swiss chard, collard greens, celery, asparagus, etc. on a daily basis
  • Eating root vegetables like potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips, onions, garlic, ginger, leeks and radishes
  • Including a variety of legumes (beans, lentils, peas, etc.) in my diet
  • Eating mushrooms
  • Eating a variety of different nuts on a regular basis
  • Minimizing refined carbohydrates like pastas that are not whole grain, white bread, etc.
  • Not adding vegetable oils to my foods
  • Avoiding meats, poultry, dairy and eggs