^^ Spinach, peanut butter, oat, banana, and milk smoothie. Not vegan, but plant-based!
I’m sure many of you have heard about the documentary What The Health by now. Along the lines of Food Inc. (which I love) and Forks Over Knives, What The Health promotes a plant-based, vegan diet as the be-all and end-all right way to eat. I have had several friends watch it and immediately proclaim themselves vegan for life.
I am not a fan of the documentary because it leans on cherry-picked studies to scare people into avoiding ALL animal products FOREVER. I stumbled upon this article while digging around online and completely agree with these sentiments by the author, Julia Belluz:
“Andersen’s film fails on several accounts, and cranks the food fear sirens to irresponsibly high levels. He mischaracterizes and overstates what we know about how particular foods drive disease, by offering a narrow view of the science with cherry-picked studies to support his views. He also seeks out a slew of vegan and animal rights–friendly health professionals rather than a more balanced roster of experts, and engages in silly gotcha journalism to suggest organizations like the American Diabetes Association intentionally hide the truth about diet.
Most of us could stand to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat and dairy, and a plant-based diet is a healthy choice for many people. But with messages like “drinking milk causes cancer” or “eating eggs is as bad as smoking cigarettes”, this film isn’t going to right our health problems. It confuses what’s known in science and obscures the truths of nutrition that could actually help us live healthier lives.”
I am not here to knock vegans or plants. We should ALL be eating a plant-based diet whether or not we also choose to also eat meat, dairy, fish, and eggs. Like Belluz states, most people could reduce their meat consumption. Most people could and should eat more plants. And reduce sugar. And convenience food. And focus on real food. It’s the ratio of plants to all of the other stuff that is most important in my book. Plants should outnumber the rest by far. But animal products are not inherently poison. This kind of food fear talk is how eating disorders and orthorexia are born.
I asked one of my friends if she would like to borrow some of my nutrition books that advocate a plant-based diet but also include a balanced approach to eating sustainable and humanely-raised animal foods like wild salmon, grass-fed beef, and pastured eggs. These were the five I suggested.
This was the book that turned me on to nutrition and got me off artificial sweeteners and diet foods as I began my weight loss journey. The authors focus on health as defined not by what we shouldn’t be eating, but what we should be. They use research and practical, sound advice to convince the reader why a certain set of “superfoods” are the healthiest options to form the foundation of a healthy diet. The book is an easy read, too.
Like SuperFoods HealthStyle, this book lists the world’s 150 healthiest foods (per the title) and has a lot of information in between. It’s a great reference book because each food has its own page, and there is bonus information as well as articles between them. It is broken down by category and even includes coffee and wine (yay!). You’ll finish it with the confidence that a diverse diet is the one to rule them all.
Marion Nestle is one of the most respected food writers, and her book is a great place to start for someone new to the nutrition world. She explains the basics and dips into more controversial territory and does a great job explaining food labels and debunking health claims from big companies. In a world where the nutrition industry is getting more and more complicated, this book will give you the knowledge to grocery shop with confidence.
Perhaps the crunchiest of the bunch, I loved reading Weil’s book. I read it very early on (probably a decade ago) and it might feel a bit dated at this point, but I loved all the personal stories inside and reading the book left me wanting to go make a salad packed with greens, lentils, jicama, herbs, nuts, sprouts, dates, lemon juice, and olive oil. This quote from the book says it all, “My conviction is that healthy food and delicious food are not mutually exclusive; the concept of “eating well” must embrace both the health-promoting and the pleasure-giving aspects of food.” I’d like to have a meal with him!
And finally, one many of you have probably heard of and read. This is probably Michael Pollan’s most famous book because it’s easy to read, short, and just so….reasonable. We all know the quote, “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” and this book is the longer version of that quote. Pollan challenges us to live like our grandparents did, and his simplified ideology in a crowded nutrition industry makes everyday applications easier to digest (pun intended).
What is the best nutrition or health book you’ve ever read?