Does a plant based diet mean going vegan?
In most of my posts you will hear me extolling the virtues of a real foods diet. I believe strongly in a plant heavy real foods diet as being the fundamentally most effective healing tool we have in our arsenal today to heal and prevent chronic illness and to lead balanced supercharged lives throughout our lifetimes.
Many of you have written in and asked if my belief in a plant based diet means being a vegetarian or even vegan and if I believe that eating only plants is right for everyone. The short answer is absolutely not. The fact is, even in my own household, we are careful omnivores and flexivores, eating more veggie dishes in the summer when beautiful greens and other summer vegetables, sweet seasonal peaches, berries, and other cooling, energetic foods abound to make it easy to eat raw and not have the need for grounding heavy meats. In the winter, though we still eat many vegetarian dishes with “stick to your ribs” soaked and long cooked legumes, and root vegetable soups and stews, wild venison, boar and fowl along with some grass-fed beef and free-range poultry and much more wild-caught cold water fish graces our dinner table. I know what works for my family, what nourishes them and makes them feel satisfied so when they leave the house they are not stopping for McDonald’s or scarfing Snicker’s bars. When food becomes a dogmatic “ism”, and restrictive, this is when people fall off the wagon altogether.
My husband and I learned a long time ago that we eat very differently. In the summer, when I am eating crisp salads, I know to always have at least a warm soup for him and, every once in awhile a chicken thigh makes him very happy. My husband eats far more dairy than me, mostly cultured cheese and yogurt from raw milk, but my body would be so congested and lethargic on that much dairy while his thrives.
I have learned from my clients that several of them do well on green smoothies and juice while many more of them do better at sticking to a detox plan or even six month plan when incorporating more food and less juice. They still lose weight, have boundless energy, and glowing skin, but they get there in different ways. I have learned not only from my education but to listen to my clients carefully and tailor nutrition plans to suit them instead of trying to make them fit a “diet”. Most of the plans we put together are so good they cook the recipes for their families and, without their families even realizing, are enlisted into a healthier lifestyle without feeling like they’ve been drafted.
So what is an ideal diet for the average family?
As I begin to work with my individual clients we talk about their current style of eating and what they would be willing to try, whether it be raw foods, vegan dishes, cutting out meat, etc. Many of them have one thing in common. They want something to work FAST and generally want to try the latest fad in “detoxing”. While I do have a few “cleanse” programs I do love and use as seasonal cleanses or when I feel I need something much more structured because I am too busy to think about my kitchen, I always try to dissuade them from modalities such as the “Master Cleanse”, or even a long term juice fast full of fruit based juices and little to no protein. First, most long-term detoxes don’t work. I know, I know. ”But you are the “detox diva” so how can you say that??” I do believe strongly in detoxing the body from the onslaught of toxins from our foods, our personal care and beauty products loaded with carcinogens and hormone disruptors, chemicals we put into our bodies in the form of synthetic hormones (birth control pills) and pharmaceuticals, and the countless numbers of toxic substances to which we are incidentally exposed daily as a result of “better living through chemistry” such as Bisphenol-A laden plastics, pesticides, phtalates, etc. Our bodies have a detoxification system in place through the lungs, kidneys, colon, and skin but there is only so much the body can handle before the body breaks down and can no longer detoxify fast enough.
Taking time to detoxify with lots of fresh water, organic seasonal freshly pressed juices, greens and veggie packed smoothies with added superfoods and healthy plant based fats like chia seeds, flax seeds, nuts, and avocado, vibrant enzyme rich salads, warm grounding soups packed with a myriad of vegetables and legumes and even wild caught, low mercury fish for those that really do not want to go the vegetarian path or don’t want their families to revolt, and a small amount of low acidity grains such as quinoa, amaranth, and millet can be a delicious yet nurturing way to detox the body and stay on the plan long term helping rid themselves of unwanted weight, banish cellulite, eliminate chronic inflammation, balance hormones and adrenals , decrease pain, and even achieve radiant, firmer, more glowing skin.
I tend to love the “nutritarian” food pyramid by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD because it describes beautifully the balance of how a plant based diet would work for any family.
We disagree STRONGLY on the use of low-fat dairy products. Low-fat dairy products contain little Palmitoleic acid present in full-fat raw dairy which actually protects against insulin resistance which decreases by several fold the risk of Type 2 Diabetes development. The Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) present in full-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows, significantly lowers risk of developing colon cancer by up to 41%. Low-fat dairy products have less satisfaction factors therefore you tend to have to eat more. Low-fat dairy products contain more “sugar” therefore, in the long run, will increase risk of obesity.
While I don’t use a lot of dairy, when I do it is from a raw grass-fed source. I do cook with a lot of grass-fed raw and cultured ghee in the winter. Raw full-fat dairy still has enzymes in tact that pasteurized homogenized milk simply doesn’t which makes raw dairy still an acceptable choice for those that want to include dairy in their diets. Just think of pasteurized low-fat dairy as dead and devoid of life and stay away from it. Nut milks from almond, Brazil nuts, and cashews along with hemp seed make fantastic nutritious substitutes for dairy. And coconut yogurt is delicious!
If you want to cut animal products further, the great news is replacing them with more vegetables, a few more legumes, and nuts and seeds is really easy and delicious.
Look for the launch of our 21-day Reset, Recharge, and Renew program that will teach you to incorporate a plant based eating plan into your family with ease.