What a healthy “plant-based diet” really looks like

I love plants—maybe more than most. I eat them every day. I grow them, for food and for show. And yes, I know each and every one of my plants by name.

So why does the term “plant-based diet” set me off every time I hear it? Well, because of studies like the one I want to share with you today… which grab all the headlines, while offering absolutely nothing in the way of real-world context.

Leaping to conclusions

Let’s cut to the chase: According to a recent analysis, people who eat more plant foods—which in this case, included semi-vegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans—are less likely to wind up with type 2 diabetes.

This study found that, over the course of a nearly 30-year follow-up, subjects with the highest intake of plant-based foods enjoyed a 23 percent lower risk of diabetes compared to those with the lowest intake—a trend that was independent of body mass index (BMI).

When researchers looked at higher intake of “healthy” plant-based foods in particular—which included fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts—they found an even higher reduction in risk (30 percent).

Of course, the authors also acknowledge that because the nine studies in this analysis—all in high-income countries—were observational, cause and effect couldn’t be proven. (Especially since data was based on, in most cases, a single self-reported reply to a food frequency questionnaire.)

This is all you really need to know to dismiss the hyped-up headlines as baloney. And yet, this story somehow snags front page news and a lead spot in JAMA… what’s wrong with this picture???

Now, don’t get me wrong—of course eating more plants is good for you. I could debate its environmental merits until the cows come home (pun intended)—even I won’t argue with that very self-evident fact.

But let’s call a spade a spade: All this study really demonstrates is how deep the bias against meat consumption really runs.

Processed food is poison

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But the one thing I do know is that mainstream medical authorities have never gotten anything right about nutrition. So why would you expect them to start now?

I’m not quite sure what their agenda is, but I can say with a fair degree of certainty that it has never been to actually improve the public health. You see, that would require coming right out and saying what needs to be done to secure a safe and nutritious food supply—which wouldn’t sit so well with the folks over at Big Food.

And if you can count on anything, it’s that official guidance will always have a bias towards industry—at least in America.

In fact, that’s precisely the aspect of this trend toward veganism that disturbs me the most. What I see happening is the same thing that has happened with any other food “fad”: Big business catches wind of growing trends in nutrition… then churns out fake foods to cash in on them. (And simultaneously destroys everything healthy about any given diet in the process.)

This happened with low-fat foods, low-carb foods, and gluten-free foods alike. You name it, Big Food co-opted it. Because manufacturers like to make money, and goodness knows people like to eat.

This supply-and-demand relationship is probably the single greatest threat to public health. Yet these researchers have chosen to ignore that practical reality. Instead, they let people walk away with a dangerously vague conclusion: “More plants. Less meat. Less diabetes.”

Please… What a ridiculous message, considering the fact that actual clinical trials have shown that slashing carbs is the real key to lowering diabetes risk. Obviously, some people still can’t see that the worthless debate over meat-versus-vegetables is nothing more than a ruse to distract us from the true harbinger of death: sugar.

At the end of the day, no matter where you stand on this matter, it’s the nutrient content of what you’re eating that matters most. And the healthiest diet is always going to be the one that reduces inflammation most effectively.

Plants (and by that, I mean real plants—like leafy greens, not “impossible [non-meat] burgers”) help decrease inflammation. So the more you eat, the better. But my idea of a healthy “plant-based diet” is abundant in both organic, fresh vegetables and pasture-raised meat, eggs, and dairy.

Because there’s absolutely nothing unhealthy about animal products. But processed food is poison, no matter what the package it comes in tells you.

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‘More Plants, Less Meat, Less Diabetes,’ New Analysis Indicates.” Medscape Medical News, 07/22/2019. (medscape.com/viewarticle/915873)