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Plant-based VS Healthy
Two entirely different things
Good morning, food lovers! I’ve become a passionate cook, as have a lot of people who switch to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. I’m always on the hunt for meal ideas, and I watch numerous plant-based podcasts which often have guests on, and those guests frequently have cookbooks to pitch.
At first, I’d buy them immediately. But that resulted in crushing disappointment far too often, when I would eagerly open the newly delivered cookbook (after retrieving it from the neighbor’s house where Amazon sends all my orders despite that I’ve plastered four front windows with the four digits of my house number.) But back to my disappointment.
I open a cookbook by a whole food plant-based author who pitched it to me on a whole food plant-based podcast, only to see that most deadly of ingredients, oil, on every single freakin’ page.
Most people who think they are eating a healthy plant-based diet are still killing themselves slowly, because they aren’t eating healthily at all. So let’s talk facts here.
Plant-based, ultra processed foods are probably as harmful to your health as meat and dairy.
A recent study published by the National Institutes of Health compared whole food plant based diets with junk food plant based diets as related to breast cancer recurrence, and found that while a WFPB diet likely REDUCED the likelihood of recurrence and death, the junk food diet likely INCREASED those risks.
A plant-based diet that makes cancer come back? That’s not healthy.
So what is plant-based junk food?
It’s all the burgers and patties and nuggets that look and taste like meat. Read the ingredients. Toxic refined oils are usually very high on the list, and the other ingredients are often things like soy protein or wheat gluten. Not a whole food in the entire label.
It’s also all the fake cheese slices and shreds and hunks, which are also made mostly of oil.
These foods are every bit as harmful to the human body as any other ultra-processed food.
However, ultra-processed junk food without meat or dairy is better for the well-being of animals and the environment than ultra-processed junk food with meat and dairy. So when you eat them, you’re only harming yourself.
What to eat instead
Key: A “whole food” is whole. Not wheat gluten, but wheat. Not soy protein, but soybeans, not olive oil, but olives. See? “Whole” is the crucial word.
Here at Serenity, we make our meals from fruits, berries, vegetables, beans and other legumes, mushrooms, whole grains, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices.
We also use several minimally processed ingredients that I can list in full, because they are so few.
Tofu: Soybean curd
Tempeh: Fermented soybeans
Tamari: Soy sauce without fish
Vegan Worcester Sauce
Almond and/or Soy Milk (minimal amounts)
Whole grain pastas
Vinegars: Oh the variety of fine vinegars!
Nutritional Yeast: A vegan staple made from molasses and chock full of B12
Real maple syrup
Oil free, whole grain breads and wraps. (Ezekial is our favorite brand.)
From these ingredients, I make chili, goulash, burritos, tacos, stir fries, grain bowls, pasta dishes, scalloped potatoes, breakfast scrambles, soups, stews, cookies, cakes, brownies—anything and everything!
Dr. Micheal Greger likes to focus on what we ought to eat, instead of what we ought to restrict. And my spiritual studies would approve of this method wholeheartedly! In every situation, it’s more powerful to focus on what you want, than on what you don’t.
Dr. Greger has a list of essential foods he calls his Daily Dozen. I have not personally followed this list to get my daily nutrition, but only because I didn’t know it existed when I started on this path. However, when I went over the list recently for a client, I realized that I am getting most of these most days. I don’t get all of them every single day. But I get most of them most days, and all of them on many days. And that’s the goal. This is aspirational list. It gives us something to shoot for.
It took me years to reach this point by trial and error, before I found classes and courses I could take to learn more. I think having this list from the beginning would’ve been incredibly helpful.
I can post it here under Creative Commons and thanks to the doctor’s generosity. Full credit for this infographic goes to Dr. Greger and his fabulous NutritionFacts.org, a site I visit often that always has whatever info I need. The image also links back to the site, where there’s an app to help you track your way to success.
What have we learned?
Now we are very clear about the difference between “plant-based,” a powerful marketing label that Big Food is eager to slap on every ultra-processed, oil-based pile of crap they try to pass off as edible, and actual whole plant foods.
We’ve learned what almost no one is saying aloud right now: Plant-based junk food will kill you and keep you fat just as surely as will meat and dairy.
We know now that the only things to buy in the freezer section of the grocery store are frozen fruits and/or vegetables, and maybe some brown rice if they have it.
We know to shop around the outside, in the produce section of the market. Most stores even tend to put the tofu over there. That’s where we can find almost everything we need.
And we know which minimally processed foods we can add to the mix to keep us well fed and in thriving health.
Be easy about it
This can be a fun and rewarding adventure. Maybe you won’t think so the first week, while you begin learning a whole new way of shopping, cooking, and eating, but I guarantee you will think so when, after your first 7 days eating better, you step on the scale or check your blood pressure. Bonus for men—you will notice a certain organ on your body waking up a few times a night like it used to.
I expect you to see these noticeable changes after one week. By the end of a month, your cholesterol and A1C will be lower and your weight will be melting away as if by magic. By the end of three months, the blockages in your coronary arteries can begin to reverse themselves. By the end of six months, the telomeres on the ends of your cells, which shorten naturally with age, will begin growing longer. That’s a reversal of aging at a cellular level.
All just from eating plants!
Give it a try. What have you got to lose? (Besides a cabinet full of prescription meds and a laundry list of physical ailments, that is.)
You can do this!
The suggestions and info I give here might carry more weight because I’m not trying to sell you anything. Everything here is free. But it does take time, and I am investing heavily in educating myself further. If you’d like to be a part of the solution that’s saving lives and the planet, you can “buy me a carrot” at the link below. Thanks in advance!