I recently sat down with my sister to discuss her recent decision to adopt a whole foods and plant based diet. I was initially skeptical, but after our conversation, I committed to giving it a try! In fact, my whole family is eating this way for the next two months.
Meredith: Break this down for me. I know a bit about veganism and vegetarianism, but this seems like something more. How would you start to describe a whole foods and plant based diet and what makes it different?
Madeline: This diet is essentially "vegan" in that it doesn't include any foods that derive from animals- no meat, no dairy, no eggs. However, it is not so much concerned with what you DON'T eat as much as it is interested in what you DO eat. There is a focus on eating nourishing foods derived from the ground- plants, legumes, grains, etc. It would technically be ok for vegetarians or vegans to eat sugary, processed, or fried foods but this is not true with the whole foods and plant based diet.
Meredith: Ah, so no french fries?
Madeline: Exactly and I find that I don't even want "junk" food now that I have knowledge of how healing and nourishing plants are. I want to live a long and healthy life, which motivates me to eat this way.
Meredith: Interesting. So would you agree this is a "selfish" diet?
Madeline: That is one way of putting it. I know a lot of vegetarians and/or vegans choose to eat the way they do to save animals and the environment. My motivation certainly comes from a more "selfish" point in that I want to live a long and healthy life; however, my choice in diet also positively effects the animals and environment.
Meredith: So it is a win-win sort of situation.
Madeline: Yes, and I think it is also a situation of taking responsibility for my body- for my health and for the health of the many generations to come after I am gone.
Meredith: Do you think our culture is not taking responsibility for their health?
Madeline: I think people want to be healthy, but food is so accessible and life is so busy that it is really easy to make beef tacos or order pizza after a long day. I also think there are some myths about the importance of animal protein. The documentary Forks Over Knives is actually what inspired me to adopt this diet and they show how unnecessary and actually harming animal protein is!
Meredith: Yes, I've been wanting to talk about that documentary. Tell me about it- what inspired you so?
Madeline: There was so much DATA! Nearly 20 years of research on the effects of animal protein- leading to heart disease, cancers, high blood pressure and cholesterol, weight gain, early menstruation and menopause, and general grogginess. It highlighted cultures that eat very little meat- only bits for condiments and flavor and after seeing the numbers, the experiments, the data, I couldn't not see anymore. The research made it very clear to me: meat and dairy, in the way most americans consume it, is very unhealthy. Please watch it. It is available on Netflix right now.
Meredith: Haha, ok, I will. One last question because I know you run a lot- you log something like 40 miles a week. You find that this plant based diet gives you enough energy and protein to keep up?
Madeline: YES- absolutely. Legumes and grains like farro and quinoa are packed with protein! I haven't had any issue. Watch the documentary and you'll see.
Meredith: Ok, ok- it's on my list. Thank you for sitting down with me and telling me a bit more about this diet. I have to say, I am curious and look forward to watching Forks Over Knives.
It's been nearly three weeks since this conversation and since I also started eating a whole foods and plant based diet. I have to say, I LOVE it! I feel so fresh, light, and energized and the food is so delicious and filling. I'm not sure if I'll ever meat like I did before.