Why I Chose a Plant-Based Diet

Monday Sep 11 | BY |
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two snacks completely opposite, healthy vs unhealthy

Your biggest decision in health is what kind of diet you’re going to choose. I call this a decision because it has, at some point, to be a conscious choice.

Most people don’t choose anything.

They just continue consuming the foods they grew up on or the diet that people are eating around them.

On the other hand, a health seeker will evaluate all of the different dietary options and choose which one makes the most sense. They’ll also consider whether it’s feasible, or try and fail at a particular approach until they find one that works.

Ultimately, if you’re seeking health, you will make a choice.

What will that choice be? There are multiple options.

If you scrutinize them, I think it boils down to essentially two choices, each of which has its proponents and pundits. However, they’re not necessarily mutually inclusive.

Those two choices are:

1- The “Low-carb” approach.

2- The plant-based approach.

This first diet, in its many variations, typically will be a higher protein diet with an emphasis on removing or restricting carbohydrates.

The villains are some combination of gluten, starches, and sometimes even fruit. The focus is eating more protein and vegetables. This diet will feature daily animal protein in the form of fish, meat, chicken and eggs, and sometimes dairy products. There are many variations of this diet. But overall, the general pattern is higher protein, lower carb.

Next, we have the plant-based approach.

Again, there are many variations. The one that dominates is scientific plant-based diet and not the “ethical” vegan diet that is also popular in organizations such as PETA.

A plant-based diet would be a diet with an emphasis on unrefined carbohydrates and foods combined from the following categories: fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains and legumes. This diet would be high in carbohydrates, lower in protein, and low in fat.

Some people will say that I’m cheating here and that it’s possible to design a low-carb, plant-based diet, for example.

While this is technically correct, there are not many examples of such a diet. Carbohydrates are mostly found in plants, so by definition, a plant-based diet is a high-carbohydrate diet, unless one artificially restricts food intake to a few select choices.

So, the two most important choices or approaches are a higher protein, higher fat, lower carb diet; and a higher carbohydrate, lower fat, lower protein diet. One is plant-based, and one contains animal protein.

Macronutrients

A quick parenthesis and recap here.

There are only three types of nutrients that provide calories — the so-called macronutrients. Those are:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Protein

If one category goes up, the other two must necessarily go down. A higher-carbohydrate diet automatically means a lower-fat or protein diet.

In reality, there only two primary macronutrients: fats and carbohydrates, because proteins are not per se an energy source.

It would be nearly impossible to consume enough protein to meet your calorie needs for the day. Protein foods tend to be associated with foods that also contain fats. For example: salmon.

A typical cooked plant-based diet contains about 10-12% protein while a paleo diet often contains 15-20% protein, but rarely significantly more than that.

The dichotomy is between fat and carbohydrates.

For example, here’s the macronutrient ratio of two popular diets:

Mark Sisson Primal Blueprint

  • 15% Protein
  • 20% Carbohydrates
  • 65% Fats

Dr. McDougall’s Diet

  • 12% Protein
  • 81% Carbohydrates
  • 7% Fats

Various variations of those diets will typically mainly affect the nutrient ratio between fats and carbohydrates.

Plant-Based versus Low-Carb

When we look at the different health experts in this field, it’s easy to categorize them. So let’s take a look.

Dr. Mercola, Mark Sisson, Dr. Lustig and many others all are proponents of a variation of the low-carb diet.

On the other hand, plant-based diet advocates include Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Esselstyne, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. John McDougall, and so on.

I personally, after many years of looking at this issue and through my own experiences, I concluded that the diet that was best for me and that would lead me to the best health is the plant-based diet.

I kept an open mind.

I was never a militant vegan.

At some point, I was ready to accept that I could have been wrong; that perhaps a plant-based diet wasn’t the right one. I looked at the different issues, and I tried the different approaches, but I also studied the books, went to the conferences and heard two sides of the same argument.

Here are the reasons why I chose a plant-based diet:

  1. Scientific consensus. Years ago, I used to side with the climate skeptics because it fit my view of the world better, but then I realized my mistake. I was selecting the information based on what I wanted to hear. That’s one example. When we look at all the research —not the odd study here and there—it all points to the same conclusion. Plant foods are beneficial, and animal foods are detrimental.
  2. The experts. Going to different conferences and hearing experts explain their points of view, I realized that the plant-based experts have more training and credibility. They all are incredibly talented and intelligent people with advanced degrees in many different sciences. They’re not the typical self-proclaimed diet experts. I respect that. They don’t imbue their information with hype.
  3. The results that I’ve seen in people following a plant-based diet, whether it’s raw or cooked, have been incredible. My years of involvement in the raw food movement have shown me how powerful diet changes can be. I just don’t see the same level of the incredible results from people promoting a higher protein diet. Yes, they’re often able to lose weight with that diet, but not necessarily getting the same overall health transformations.
  4. My blood test results. I have done periods eating much more protein, much more fat and fewer unrefined carbohydrates, and when I compare my blood test results, I can see the difference. Cholesterol levels are lower on the plant-based diet. My blood pressure is lower. My resting heart rate is lower. My triglycerides are also lower, and more importantly, my inflammation markers are much lower.
  5. My health history. I look at diseases that are common in my family, and I don’t see a lot of cancer, but I do see a lot of heart disease. In my experience, eating more fat and protein has a density to increase my cholesterol levels, so I know that if there is one aspect of my health that might be more sensitive genetically, it is heart health and blood pressure. It seems to me that the smartest choice is to eat a diet that controls this factor.
  6. Contaminants. No one will convince me that it’s healthier to eat at the top of the food chain than at the bottom. This is the fatal flaw experts don’t consider when they recommend eating fish. We are exposed to more contaminants when we eat at the top of the food chain. Animal tissues contain much more pesticides and toxic residues than plants that have been sprayed with the same chemicals. An animal will eat hundreds of pounds of food, and all of the toxins contained in those foods will accumulate in its tissues.
  7. Antioxidants. Whenever we hear of some cancer protecting food, it’s always a plant. We never find a study that discovers that mussels prevent diseases, or that lamb meat has an incredible amount of antioxidants. Why? The antioxidants are in the plants. They’re in the colorful fruits and vegetables. It seems to me that the foods that are the most protective should be the healthiest. Eat foods that prevent disease, and you might be sure that they are not food that will cause disease. They tend to be the same food.

Finally, there are many, many more reasons why plant foods are incredible, and this is not a discussion of whether you should be a strict vegan or not.

I do occasionally stray, usually because I’m traveling or unprepared, but that rarely happens on the whole. My diet is on the plant-based side.

Your thoughts?

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

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40 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

  1. Tim says:

    Frederic, great article as always. I really appreciate your studied views and you great way of expressing them. I think the above article either has an error in it, or the way you expressed it is a bit misleading, or else what you said reverses what I have heard for years and years of reading about health and nutrition. You claim that you can’t eat enough protein in a day to get enough calories for that day. I suppose it would be hard to find a food source that is pure protein with no carbs or fats. Egg whites might be an example. And you may be right, it would be hard to eat enough egg whites in a day to get enough calories. And you are also right in implying that animal foods are mainly combinations of protein and fat, and so a lot of the calories you get from eating animal foods come from fats. But still, isn’t it true that you get 4 calories per gram of protein just like you get 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate and 9 calories per gram of fat? So if you could find a palatable source of pure protein, you could get 2,000 calories by eating 500 grams of that substance. Just like you have to eat 500 grams of pure carbs to get 2,000 calories. I just wouldn’t want your readers to think that they can eat all the protein they want and get no calories from them, as if they are a free ride to drastic weight loss.

  2. Y says:

    Thank you for helping me with info on some of the diets out there that are confusing. I think that your views on most things are right for the times. I have followed you for most of the time you have been blogging. Please continue to enlighten us as things come up.

  3. Donata says:

    What do you think about the so much demonized grains? I still cannot resign myself to thinking they are bad…There is so much criticism about them, of so many kinds, but what has often caught my eye is the fact that Whole grains are said to be “abrasive” on the intestinal walls, so to speak. Thanks.

  4. It seems that no one will discuss that there are two distinct forms of protein… animal and vegetable. Die hard vegans will never eat any protein that comes from an animal and it is of no wonder that they end up becoming weak and frail. Without enough animal protein, our muscles (especially the heart) is going to take it on the chin.

    • Another myth Mark. As a practicing Cardiologist, I can tell you that the only diets proven to reverse coronary heart disease are 100% plant-based. Moreover, if beautifully sculpted muscles are what you are looking for, do a web search on vegan bodybuilding. What you’ll find will surprise you.

    • Neil says:

      I have never ever ever seen one person become weak and frail who knows how to eat sensibly, whether they be a meat eater or not. You have been brainwashed, but that’s their job, and they have done it well. I for one, have been Vegan for a long time, and at 47 years of age, still perform internationally as an artistic performer plus running a busy health retreat.

      It’s all about understanding enough about nutrition nowadays. A long time ago it was not necessary to know anything about nutrition, as we see with centenarians, who have simply eaten organic plant foods their entire lives, and occasionally animals from their own land, grass fed, minimal contaminants.

      It’s a different world now. The city life is a potent killer, and all the abnormal unhealthy human habits that are contained within. Our job at Natures Paradise is to balance life again.

  5. Patrick S. says:

    Great article Fred! I totally agree with your observations. I have also made some additional observations over the years. These could just be coincidences, but I’ve seen them enough times to suspect that there’s something going on here.

    1. Many children of vegetarians or raw food vegans tend to look a bit “weird” or less “well developed” than the average healthy kid. I have no idea how these kids compare in terms of getting sick, but something seems to be going on. Perhaps some nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy or childhood? I wouldn’t be surprised if children, with their intense growth need, would fair better eating some animal products than being vegan.

    2. I have observed in myself and many other high carb eaters, that something could be going on with our skin. For example, it seems that many of us have more dark spots and other things going on in our face than average healthy people. Could it be the higher consumption of sugars, such as fructose, leading to more advanced glycation end products? Or it may just be the result of more sun exposure, due to an increased awareness of the importance of vitamin D and being outdoors in general?

    3. When people switch to a raw food or vegetarian diet, it seems that most will do really well for the first few years, especially women. But after a few years, the same people don’t look as healthy anymore. This again seem to apply more to men than women. And of those men who do not have extremely low body fat, many seem to develop bodies that look like they have an excess of estrogen. Fats and proteins are needed in the production many important hormones, so could it be that when men eat a low fat and low protein diet, they’re not producing enough of certain important hormones?

    4. The healthiest people I know, and the one’s that look the healthiest, usually eat some animal products. They also eat moderate amounts of fat. Granted, many people, myself included, started on the raw or vegan path because of health challenges. So a fair comparison may be difficult to do if the person you compare yourself to has always been in good health (better genetics?). Some of the healthiest native people I have seen however, were in Fiji, where they seem to eat a “balanced” diet, in terms of carbs, fats and proteins, consisting of fish, coconuts, fruits and vegetables.

    5. Bright white eye whites, to me seems to be one of the best indicators of a person’s health (as well as great looking hair and skin). When I see someone with very bright eye whites, they are not usually vegan, but seem to eat a regular healthy diet including fats and proteins.

    I would like nothing more than to know for sure that a plant based diet really is the healthiest diet for everyone. But after experimenting with raw and vegan for nearly two decades, I’m actually less convinced of it now than I was in the beginning. I would appreciate your input on these observations.

  6. Paul says:

    The merits of a plant-based diet make sense. Doctors Esselsyn/rnish recommend low-fat plant-based (LFPB) diets to reverse cardiovascular problems and have the data to support this. My chiropractor has a functional medicine approach and he has heartburn about the grains and simple carbs often used in the LFPB diets. I understand that simple carbs can cause cardiovascular issues but his advice about complex carbs might conflict with Ornish and Esselstyn.

    Also, paleo advocates say there is not enough necessary fats in LFPB diets and this can cause impaired cellular functioning or cognitive functioning.

    So, I would love to improve my cardio functioning but I would hate to end up with cognitive impairment down the road. Any thoughts you could provide on these two issues (especially the cognitive one) would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  7. I am caought in exactly this dicothomy: paleo or plant based.
    Doctors, like dr. Mozzi with the blood type diet, says a diet based on fruit will make kidney inflamation worse.
    So with my blood type A I need to eat fish, and eggs and lentils and little fruit only in the morning, and then gluten free quasi-cereals like buckwheat and amaranth, and quinoa is ok. It is considered eutral like whole rice.
    Nevertheless I feel better with a plant based diet, I feel more energetic. But I feel often unsatisfied.
    How can it be that I need to chose a diet I struggle with. Is it because my stomach is no longer used to digest some things?
    Maybe I need not to decide but let my body chose what it needs.
    What’s your word?
    Thanks,
    Federico

  8. Lesley says:

    Paleo isn’t necessarily a low-carb, high protein diet. It’s a low to moderate carb, moderate protein, moderate to high fat diet. Based on the recommendations of Dr. Mercola, Mark Sisson, and Chris Kresser it could by any combination of the above ratios. I often find die-hard vegetarian and vegans put it in the same category as the Atkins diet, which it is not.

    I agree with most of the observations of Patrick. I’ve experimented with many diets for the past 4 decades. When I was on the “Natural Hygiene” raw food diet I noticed many of the things Patrick mentioned with people who had been following it some time. Another observation I’ve noticed is that people that have followed a strict vegan diet with lots of fruit and especially lots of high glycemic fruit like bananas seem to age faster, I’ve also wondered if all that fructose increases AGE’s. Conversely, it seems people that eat a healthy diet that includes some animal protein and lots vegetables and healthy fat look really good for their age and often quite a bit younger than their years.

    I tried really hard to stay on the raw vegan diet but found I feel best on a Paleo type diet. I am a small person with a small appetite and I found it physically impossible to consume enough food on the plant based diet. I am much healthier and feel much better with a low to moderate carb, moderate protein and moderate to high fat diet.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    • Hi, Lesley.

      I respect your thinking process, but it’s based on some entirely false (and woefully common) misperceptions …

      For one, bananas are actually LOW on the glycemic index (not even MEDIUM!) :

      LOW = 1 – 55
      22 – Cherries
      38 – Apples
      40 – Strawberries
      42 – Oranges
      42 – Peaches
      46 – Grapes
      51 – Mango
      52 – Bananas

      MEDIUM = 56 – 69
      59 – Pineapples
      65 – Cantaloupe

      HIGH = 70+
      72 – Watermelon (note that even watermelon is at the very low end of high!)

      And as for advanced glycation end products – fruit is NOT an issue … check out this NutritionFacts video:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/avoiding-a-sugary-grave/

      SOME KEY POINTS FROM THAT VIDEO:
      – A study tested all of the following for advanced glycation end products: nuts and seeds, oils, beef, poultry, pork, fish, cheese, soy, eggs, breads, cereals, beans, grains, veggies, crackers, cookies, fruit, dairy, juice, Big Macs, and Hot Pockets, and Hummus, and veggie burgers, candy, soups, condiments, and miscellaneous, from Budweiser to breast milk, coffee, and coke, jello to vodka.

      – The top 15 most contaminated foods were chicken, bacon, chicken, hot dog, chicken, beef, chicken, chicken, beef, chicken, turkey, chicken, fish, beef, and chicken.

      – Whereas cooking is known to drive the generation of new AGEs in foods, it is interesting to note that even uncooked, animal-derived foods can contain large amounts of dietary AGEs, the so called glycotoxins.

      HERE IS THE STUDY:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920582/pdf/glq074.pdf

      Semba RD, Nicklett EJ, Ferrucci L. Does accumulation of advanced glycation end products contribute to the aging phenotype? J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 Sep;65(9):963-75. Epub 2010 May 17.

      AND HERE IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE STUDY:
      (Note that it characterizes both fruit AND fruit juices as LOW-AGE foods)

      The consumption of AGE-rich foods may be higher among low-income groups because foods such as sodas, crackers, cookies, potato chips, and other highly processed foods are less expensive and more readily available than low-AGE foods such as pure fruit juices, fresh fruit, and vegetables

      ANOTHER AGE DISCUSSION:
      You can also check out the discussion about AGEs in fruit versus animal products between Darryl and others in the COMMENTS section of this NutritionFacts video:
      nutritionfacts.org/video/reducing-glycotoxin-intake-to-prevent-alzheimers/

      LARGEST AGE SURVEY TO DATE:
      And finally, here is a link to the largest study of advanced glycation end products to date:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3704564/

      EXCERPTS FROM ABOVE STUDY:

      – Animal-derived foods that are high in fat and protein are generally AGE-rich and prone to new AGE formation during cooking. In contrast, carbohydrate-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk contain relatively few AGEs, even after cooking.

      – Grains, legumes, breads, vegetables, fruits, and milk were among the lowest items in dAGE, unless prepared with added fats. For instance, biscuits had more than 10 times the amount of dAGEs found in low-fat breads, rolls, or bagels.

      – The current dAGE database demonstrates that a significantly reduced intake of dAGEs can be achieved by increasing the consumption of fish, legumes, low-fat milk products, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and by reducing intake of solid fats, fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and highly processed foods.

  9. Judy l says:

    Frederic,
    Thank you for this article. It clears things up for me.
    I have also experimented with the different diets and have a large library of books from the experts you have mentioned.
    So now I am primarily plant based but I don’t feel as guilty when I occasionally have a small piece of wild caught fish or organic chicken or fish. It is difficult to eat in restaurants so I do the best I can with plants.
    Fortunately I am beginning to find a few more places who are starting catch on.

    Thanks again for sharing you thoughts .
    Judy

  10. Luis Medrano says:

    Great article, thanks for sharing! It’s important like you said to not adhere to the strict militant vegan mindset, but to look at various viewpoints, that way you are making a more informed decision as to why you choose a plant-based diet.

  11. Carol Willis says:

    Paleo is largely a whole natural foods diet that can be designed in many ways ranging from A to Z.

    I have long said that a raw vegan diet is a subset of paleo.

    Add more vegetables and fruits, increasingly crowding out other foods. Inclusiveness. Abundance.

    Paleo moving toward more plant-based, then toward more raw, will be moving toward raw vegan eventually.

  12. Kathleen says:

    Then you aren’t a vegan, Fred. You just mostly follow a plant based diet. Veganism is an ethical stance to avoid using animals as much as practical and possible.

    Regardless, you are doing leaps better than the average bear, I mean human.

  13. Becky says:

    1. I’ve been a vegetarian all my life, though no longer eat gluten meat substitutes. What do you eat for protein?

    2. I am borderline Type 2 and cannot eat any fruit now, as it raises my BS. (Disabled so cannot walk)

    3. What do you do for Vit. D? D3 is best but from meat.
    My D3 is low (40). I tried D3 but no better.

    4. You need good fat (coconut & avocado). Your brain is 90% cholesterol – why people on statin drugs to
    lower cholesterol get Alzheimer’s

    • Neil says:

      I would say “who said you can’t eat fruit anymore?”
      I would also say that it was not the fruit that caused borderline type 2 diabetes in the first place, so why should this be avoided? Makes no sense. Fruit ( or nature) does not kill, does it? Does anyone out there know something else? I have never heard of anyone being diagnosed and pronounced dead from eating fruit. Fruit is an essential food – it’s there for a reason – lollies, cakes, biscuits etc are not!

      Vitamin D is best and FREE from the sun in the middle part of the day- but depends where you live in the world.
      Protein can be found in many plant sources such as chia.

  14. Medoh says:

    Frederic, Thank you so much again for another very concise, inclusive and well-written article.

    One point I would like to mention that you and Kevin have said in the past is that everyone is different, so each person will have individual results and even diffeent results at different ages. Being older, my body will function differently that someone’s in their 20s or 30s.

    Keep up your great work. Thanks again.

  15. Laurie says:

    I don’t think of myself as being on a Paleo diet but by your definition I probably am. Like my mother, my blood tests always show that I am deficient in protein and my (naturopath) physician tells me that even at 98 lbs I need to get at least 65g protein a day. I don’t eat meat, but I do seem to do best by supplementing my mostly vegan diet with a little seafood and cheese. I avoid sugar and high-sugar fruits because I want to preserve my gums and teeth. I also make sure that I get at least 45 grams of fiber daily. A huge salad is the focus of my main meal. I eat nuts and seeds in limited quantities and cook without using fats, although most days I eat at least 1/2 of an avocado. I also consume a lot of cooked vegetables/vegetable soups. So does that make me Paleo? Still
    Not quite sure, but maybe…..

  16. Cheryl says:

    Frederic,

    Thank you for your thoughts and research summaries. I have doubted myself lately (about remaining primarily plant based), mostly because I am not able to drop weight and I keep reading all these other authors who promote grain free and high protein. But, I simply don’t inherently agree, I cannot shake the sense that it makes to eat plants. Even though it oftentimes is embarrassing or at the least inconvenient to stay the course and not eat meat,(when going out to dinner or attending a family gathering), I think, thanks to you, that I will be more convicted because I believe it is the right way for me to eat. So/ thank you!

    • Hi Cheryl — to drop weight more rapidly eliminate: flour and any products made from it, anything refined (white rice, etc.), simple sugars, limit fruit to 2 pieces a day, and all fats and oils (nuts, seeds, avocados, etc.) This method worked great for my mom and many others who have tried it.

  17. Prema says:

    Bravo…….I enjoyed this article very much…..especially since I eat a plant based diet (not raw) and could never ever eat an animal……Thank-you.

  18. Jacklie says:

    I think that it just depends on one’s genetic make up and ancestral diet. Everyone is different, so one size doesn’t fit all. Having said that, I do agree that a plant based diet is probably the healthiest.

  19. LEROY WERRE says:

    I, Leroy Werre , Arlington Washongton
    Leroy has been on a plant-based diet for several years. I will be 73 next month, do not endorse pharmaceutical
    drugs. My ageing process has slowed down. I am perhaps about 30 years younger than my age. I also drink
    restructured water so I am fully hydrated. Also exercise every week. I have not visited a Doctor in perhaps 15 yrs.

    I endorse the Doctors that you mentioned [McDOUGALL, FUHRMAN, T.COLIN CAMPBELL, NEIL BARNARD AND

    DR. ESSELTYN. I do my best to get the word out that we do not have to be sick.

  20. Dodie Lake says:

    Hi there

    I must say I don’t think the so called Paleo diet is a healthy one either , although I know a lot of people who are passionate about it. Those advocates of the diet are often enthusiastic people who want to be healthy and have convinced themselves this is the way to go. A lot of the benefits they enjoy would most likely be due to not smoking, not eating junk food, not taking excessive alcohol and exercising regularly.

    I have eaten a plant based mostly vegetarian diet all my life and enjoy extremely good health. Of course I don’t smoke or eat junk food either and I exercise regularly too. I don’t have a doctor and don’t need one.

    I will never be convinced that eating dead, rotting flesh of animals is a healthy practice. For a start there is no fibre in meat and it is incredibly acid forming. An acid body is a breeding ground for all disease including cancer. If you read ‘THE CHINA STUDY, (a book Dr Fuhrman quotes from) the claim is that meat eating is the primary cause of all cancer. I believe refined sugar products and all junk processed ‘foods’ are certainly up there as culprits too.

    A clean, organic plant based, mostly raw diet of living foods full of fibre, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and anti-oxidants is a vitalising and alkalising way of life. Whole grains and legumes contain protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fibre and have historically been life sustaining for many ancient people and continues to be.

    Next month my mother will turn 100. She still lives at home, does cryptic crosswords, plays bridge, knits, (complicated patterns) and does her daily 10 ‘laps’ around the garden. She is on no medication at all – although on her annual medical check-ups for her driving license – the doctor tried repeatedly to push sleeping and other medication on her but she refused, saying “I sleep like a log now so what is the point?”

    When asked what she attributes her good health and long life to she said “Keeping away from doctors!”

    Dodie Lake

  21. Kathy says:

    This is some news. I have been wondering which diet to follow for the past twenty years. All I want to do is follow a diet that I feel is right. Even Biblical. But there are many avenues along this way also.
    And then the basic hamburger (bison) burger tastes so very good.

    I will give your suggestions a good thought. And would love to hear what others have to say.

    In my heart, I believe a person is better off without the meat that is so hard to digest.
    And to think I have an iron problem.
    Kathy

  22. Neil says:

    Very good, impressive effort, and sensible for a change.

    I don’t agree above though with your advice to someone to drop fats and oils to lose weight ( or fat) faster. I know what you are trying to say, but we need not take drastic short cuts to the detriment of human function. Diets are a massive problem, and virtually all of them are garbage.

    At Natures Paradise health and eco retreat, one of the key areas we teach people is to simply eat healthier plant based foods, with higher nutrients, less calories. All people lose weight here and that includes giving them avocado, nuts, flaxseed, cacoa etc while they are here. We also don’t limit people’s fruit. Excess fruit has never killed anyone or made anyone fat – it is not the problem. The day i see an overweight person in a supermarket with a shopping trolley overlaoded full of fruit will be the day I also win lottery – it won’t happen! Nature causes no harm. The problem is in the various other areas the way most people live the city life.

  23. Liv says:

    Whilst I love your writing and appreciate your research and personal experience and opinion, I am rather confused why you state that you see there being only two (albeit broadly encompassing) choices if one is to make a conscious decision on how one structures one’s diet as coming from you this comes across as unexpectedly narrow minded! Just an observation as in fact it seems engineered as an introduction to a “paleo” – “plant based” comparison from your point of view.
    Your article is however a “no-brainer” comparison of “paleo” and “plant based” eating. It seems so obvious to eat a diet with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegatables, nuts and seeds!

  24. I’ve been so frustrated by this issue, as a true believer in the plant-based approach. I work in the complementary health care field, and many of my colleagues are recommending the “paleo” approach to patients all the time. It seems much more like a fad to me, and like you mentioned, can help with weight loss – but is it sustainable, and is it healthy? We NEED whole food carbs! It’s our energy source! …and also for all of the other health and environmental benefits…Thank you for succinctly and clearly writing this down and sharing it.

  25. Glad that you mentioned that this is your “personal thinking process”. My training is in Chinese Medicine and that is exactly how Chinese Med is going to look at diet, personalized. Very simplified, foods are “categorized” as yin/yang (hot/cold), so it all depends on what you are needing, if you are feeling cold, low energy, introspective then maybe you need more yang foods, there are some yang vegetables because it is all relative like for example ginger is more yang than mint, but red meat is more yang than ginger. And the opposite, if somebody is too warm, aggressive, hyperactive, that person my benefit from a more cooling/yin diet which will translate in more vegetables. All nutrients are needed, the proportions are going to vary from person to person, we just have to experiment and find out what works better for us, and that still might change from time to time. We have to learn how to listen to our bodies and be able to adapt.

  26. akit says:

    Just think of our teeth.
    Are they the same as that of lion?
    Do you think we were able to catch the animal for eating every day when we wanted? There were no supermarkets in paleo times.
    Nowaday we eat too much animal meat. That’s one of the reason we get sick.
    We should eat animal meat only when we cerebrate the religious events for God, Buddha or any special occasions.
    There are not enough meat for consuming every day and for every body.

    Not only whale, pig, cow and chicken or any other animals have their own life to live. We must respect their lives not to kill animals which one of the most important Buddhism rules.

  27. Doug Davison says:

    Hi Frederic; In your no.5 reason you mention a history of heart disease in your family and your concern about high cholesterol levels. Apparently the news about vitamin K2 hasn’t reached you yet.
    It’s now known that the main cause of hardening of the arteries, heart disease and strokes is deficiency of vitamin K2 in the diets of virtually all North Americans unless they’re eating grass fed meat or supplementing K2.
    High cholesterol has very little to do with those disaeses. There’s plenty of new science to back this up.
    You need the read the book ” Vitamin K2 And The Calcium Paradox” by fellow Canadian, Dr. Kate Rheaume- Bleue. It’s an amazing eye opener backed by tons of research.
    You might want to pass this on to Kev’s favorite doc, Dr. Williams as he seems to be unaware of this, as does Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
    All the best
    Doug

  28. Rae says:

    In so many billions of educational videos on YouTube, there is only very few dedicated to DENTAL health WHILE on PLANT-BASED diet. On the other hand there are countless testimonials how people healed their cavities following Weston Price diet or as summarized in Ramiel Nagel’s book on cavities healing. None of the so-called “experts” including medical doctors are addressing how to KEEP healthy TEETH and at the same time continuing PLANT-BASED diet.

  29. Chris Harmon says:

    That was a well written article. I have come to the same conclusion through many years of being on the plant-based lifestyle journey. Being a licensed Holistic Health Practitioner, I am exposed to many clients with limited understanding and experience that are choosing less than optimal dietary practices. I am very happy to now have at my fingertips concrete data concerning optimal dietary patterns. Back to the early 1970s when I started my journey, there was very limited data and there was a lot of experimentation which led to not so optimal health outcomes. Thanks Frederic for being you !!!

  30. Anne Foster says:

    Hi, Frederic: I always enjoy your emails and posts. I am a 74-year old omnivore. I don’t take statins. I have heart disease but it is not related to arterial plaque. It is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and I had a large muscular obstruction removed four years ago; it save my life. In fact, I have “zero plaque” in my arteries confirmed by two separate angiograms and heart scans at least 10 years apart. I also have the large, fluffy particle size which doesn’t stick. The small ones do. My inflammation markers are normal. My total cholesterol was 184 in the last test. The HDL and LDL are normal. I take a lot of supplements for heart health. We eat a lot of vegetables (steamed and raw), fruit, nuts, seeds. My cholesterol, in the past, was high (no more than 250) and my other numbers needed improvement. My triglycerides are normal and have been as low as 83 (a little higher now).

    We eat a lot of wild salmon and other wild Alaskan fish and, yes, there are contaminants. We avoid swordfish, tuna and others on the high mercury list. We rarely eat beef or pork but do eat lamb. My husband is a native born Greek.

    For me, a totally plant based diet is not an option. I read all the time, opinions of both sides and I don’t think a vegan diet is healthy. On the other hand, some experts believe we are all different and some thrive on a vegan diet while other must have flesh. In other words, one size does NOT fit all.

    I will consider eliminating gluten, dairy and sugar again because I think that is a good thing to do. I don’t need any of that and I need to lose weight, even at the age of 74. I will continue to enjoy hearing from you and paying attention to what you say. I say I have a plant based diet and garnish with flesh foods. Good luck to you; keep up the good work. I have commented before and no one every comments. Kevin Gianni returned to being an omnivore and he felt better. The Dalai Lama said in a public event that we attended that, for health reasons, his doctor recommended that he eat meat. Tibetans are traditionally meat eaters. It is also documented that many vegetarians change their diets back to eating flesh. I think each of us must choose after getting the best information. All good wishes, Anne

  31. I forget to say in my previous comments that I have been taking a high dose of Vitamin K2; my naturopath said, “it flushes the arteries and protects your bones.” Most brands are offered in very small doses (MCG); mine is 15mg. I also take fish oil, flax oil, ubiquinol, pomegranate juice (unsweetened) and a variety of other supplements suggested by my health care providers. Perhaps this is why my cholesterol and inflammation markers are so good. Anne in Seattle, WA

  32. Once again, I agree with your general assessment. You are a wise man Mr. Patenaude. I especially like how you admit to people that occasionally you will consume foods outside of your normal diet. The honesty is refreshing. And, as I’m sure you would admit, seasonal eating practices are what the Creator intended.

  33. Mark says:

    What you say makes sense to me. We all strive to have the best diet & look to professionals for guidance. Sometimes that guidance is wrong because not everyone reacts to the same diet. We all have different genes & blood & that is an indicter that we are in different groups with diet.
    A plant based diet is where everyone should start, but of course what vegetable, grain, nut, seed or fruit we chose may not be universal for all our body types. In fact if we were to look at total guidance from just a handful of the biggest gurus at the moment then there would be very little to eat due to high fructose, lectins & fats in a lot of plant foods.

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