I've written several blog postings in the past on the difference between being whole food, plant-based and being vegan. Now, I'm going to take it a step further and explain why I believe that people who are vegans should also become whole food plant-based and why people who are whole food, plant-based should become vegans.
But first, let me summarize what the differences are between the two.
Basically, being vegan is about kindness and compassion, specifically toward animals. It's not just about the food. It's also about the other products a person buys (from automobiles to soaps), the clothes a person wears, the wallets and belts and other accessories a person has, and the causes, both political and charitable, that a person supports and promotes. Being whole food, plant-based, however, is totally about the food. It doesn't matter what soaps you use or what car you buy or what kind of belt you wear in order to be whole food, plant-based. All that matters is the food you eat.
But the best of both worlds is to be both vegan and whole food, plant-based. That's the camp I count myself in, and I hope that my readers, if not there, will gravitate toward that position as well. And the reason I say that is summed up in the environment and in climate change. That's the common denominator that both groups have.
Animal agriculture, from reports and books I've read, can be destructive to the environment and can be a major contributor to climate change. I think we all agree on that. So, while being vegan is often thought of as being kind and compassionate toward animals, by the very fact that it is less destructive to the environment and creates less of a contribution to climate change, makes it also compassionate toward humanity. That's because we all live in the environment and the atmosphere that we create here on earth. And while we didn't create our earth and our atmosphere, our daily actions determine what that environment and atmosphere will be. And as such, we are daily creating the circumstances within which we live.
The effects of being vegan are on the animals, the environment and the atmosphere. Being whole food, plant-based is actually about none of that, except to the extent that we don't eat animal products. To that extent, we are helping the environment and contributing less to climate change, just like vegans do. But because we might still buy leather wallets and leather belts and silk dresses and down pillows and woolen sweaters and perfumes and soaps made with animal products and cars with leather seats and on and on, we are still contributing to animal agriculture. And that means we are still contributing to demise of the environment and to climate change more than we need to be.
But that doesn't explain specifically why a person who is whole food, plant-based should want to be vegan. The above explanation applies to all of us. But there's a reason that the WFPB person should be sufficiently concerned about the environment and about climate change, and that is, the quality of the food that we get. The quality of the whole plant-based foods we eat, and by quality I mean the nutritional value of the food, is affected by the environment. When the soil is depleted of essential minerals, for example, then the plants won't absorb those minerals and we will no longer get needed minerals in our food.
Or worse, problems occur like the one with arsenic in rice. This issue has come about as a result of chicken farming that has raised arsenic levels in the water absorbed by rice. This has become a serious enough issue that Dr. Greger has suggested that we limit our consumption of rice. And as a whole food eaters, brown rice is even worse than white rice. But the bottom line is, the problem is created as a result of animal agriculture.
For these kind of reasons, the person who is whole food, plant-based and eating this way for their health should recognize the impact that animal agriculture is having on their health even when they don't eat animal products. And that's why a person who is WFPB should also be vegan.
So, what's the case for a vegan to become whole food, plant-based? My argument for that is that with a small percentage of people being vegan, everyone needs to be at their peak healthwise in order to have the strength, energy and stamina to take on the issues associated with being vegan. In other words, vegans need to be healthy because in being healthy, so much more can be accomplished to help the animals. It's hard to help another, whether it's a person or an animal, without being at your best in terms of health. So, I would argue that vegans have a responsibility to be healthy, and that means being whole food, plant-based. It means not just avoiding animal products, but it means also removing from the diet, oils and processed foods as well.
Bottom line is, we should all be vegans and we should all be whole food, plant-based. In that way, we can combine forces to truly improve the planet, our own health and the lives of the animals.