What Is It About Plants?

I always like to focus on the positives as opposed to the negatives of any given situation. And that includes how I focus my attention on the whole food, plant-based diet as well. It's easy to think about the negatives, and by that I mean the things that we give up. We give up meat, dairy, oils and processed foods.

But does that define us? My answer to that is no it does not define us. And focusing on the things we give up really limits, I think, our total understanding of the WFPB way of eating. We need to understand that in order to get the full benefit from a whole food, plant-based diet.

The positives are the plants. By that, I mean the vegetables, the fruits, the whole grains, the legumes, the nuts and the seeds. All of these foods have important phytonutrients that keep our body healthy. The interesting thing about the phytonutrients is that scientists estimate that there are about ten times more phytonutrients in plants than have been individually identified. As a result, unlike vitamins, we don't even necessarily know which phytonutrients our bodies might need for optimal health. Because of that, it's important to eat a wide variety of plants and to eat all colors of the rainbow.

That's rule number one: Eat a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and nuts and seeds in order to get as many phytonutrients as possible. And eat all colors. Green vegetables pack a different punch than do yellow, orange, purple or red vegetables. It's important to eat all of them as often as possible.

And as often as possible is one big reason for not eating meat, dairy, oils and processed foods. In addition to the aspects of those foods that harm our bodies, eating them also limits our ability to eat plants. And since we want to eat plants of all varieties and colors as often as possible, it doesn't make sense for us to eat something that will limit our ability to do so. Basically, any calories that come from something other than plants should be considered empty calories. They do our body's health no good in the end (in my humble opinion).

So, that brings me to rule number two: Avoid getting our daily calorie requirements from foods that are not whole, plant-based foods.

So, what is it about plants that make them such a powerhouse for us? Well, to start with, all food comes from plants. Actually all food comes from the sun, which is the source of all the energy that sustains life on earth. Plants absorb that energy from the sun and then provide it to us and all the animals and insects in the form of calories. Okay, I hear you saying the lion and the tiger don't eat plants. And you're right. But the lion and the tiger eat other animals that do eat plants.

So, basically, plants are the earth's source for all our food. That means that when we eat animal flesh or dairy products, we are eating processed food. There is no such thing as whole food animal meat when examined in that light. Animal meat is plant food that's been processed by the animal. In that sense, it doesn't really matter does it whether our food has been processed by a food manufacturer or by an animal? It's still processed food, and it's not the way our bodies are made for us to eat.

The other thing about plants is that they are generally stationary; tumbleweed being one exception. Why is that important? It's important because it means that plants don't have the ability to move like animals do. Animals can run to escape their attackers. Animals can move over into the sun if they need warmth. Animals can burrow underground or go into caves to escape the cold.

Plants can do none of that. What that means for us is plants have to build a strong immune system for themselves in order to stay in place and handle the adverse conditions that animals can escape. When the plant builds a strong immune system for itself, in the form of phytonutrients, then when we eat plants, we are bringing that strong immune system into our own bodies. For that reason too, plant-based diets, such as our WFPB diet, do help us to have strong immune systems.

From my perspective, all of that is why I find it so important to focus my attention on eating lots and lots of plants of all different varieties and colors. While I believe there are plenty of reasons to not eat meat, dairy, oils or processed foods, I think one of the biggest is that those calories would end up replacing calories that could be gotten from a wider variety of plants of all colors. And that's what I focus on each day.