1. Make it a diet. Diets are formulas for weight loss that have failed to make Americans healthy. Obesity and diet-related disease and sickness are at epidemic levels. 70% of Americans are overweight or obese because real people cannot fit into a diet formula for very long. Diet formulas fail because they reduce people and food to variables and they reduce eating to nothing more than calories in and calories out, portion sizes, hacks, tips and an unnatural focus on food.
The absolute worst thing that we can do is promote plant-based eating as just another weight loss diet. Plant-based eating is not a diet but a return to how we are designed to eat natural whole foods without rules or restrictions. To reduce our health and plant-based eating to just another weight loss formula or diet will undermine our desperate need to eat a volume and variety of real whole foods to treat, prevent and reverse obesity and diet-related disease and sickness.
2. Make it complicated. All the weird timing, tricks and massive amount of fragmented information that we all learned on previous diets should be left behind. Seriously, get rid of the 80% full nonsense, portion sizes, timing and all the ridiculous ways that we have been taught to manipulate and control our bodies. It doesn’t work and it creates an unnatural focus on food. Plant-based eating should set us free to eat. (PERIOD) Actually, EXCLAMATION MARK.
Eating whole food plant-based is an easy and natural way to saturate our bodies with nutrients. Plant-based foods are an invitation to freely eat as much as you want, eat as slow as you want, eat as fast as you want and eat whenever you want. Eat it raw, boiled, baked, broiled, sprouted, steamed and/or microwaved. If whole-food plant-based is the way we are designed to eat, then we can freely eat without guilt, shame or fear of doing it wrong.
3. Make it time-consuming. Plant-based eating doesn’t require that much effort. Eat fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, leafy greens and whole grains. You’d be so much better off eating a can of corn, some rice and beans, some potatoes and bread than 99% of the food in most restaurants. Food doesn’t have to make your wildest dreams come true every time you eat. In fact, we need to get back to food that doesn’t take a great a picture or knock our socks off but gives our bodies the nutrients they need to treat, prevent and fight diet-related disease and sickness.
4. Contradict each other. I just read a research article claiming benefits for a super strict low-calorie plant-based diet. I also found the same health benefits in a study where people ate 4 lbs. of food a day on a plant-based diet and a different study showed the same benefits on a regular plant-based diet. Without a doubt, doctors see the opportunity to differentiate themselves in this new plant-based world but please stop. Let’s work together to help people start eating plant-based before we start telling them some particular way to get better results. Perhaps, we can trust the long-term research of the blue zones that shows just eating plant-based is enough to treat, fight and prevent most diet-related disease and sickness, without any further restrictions.
5. Talk in extremes. I know there are many people who have extreme conditions and diseases but before we talk about what we have done to treat these conditions and before making specific food suggestions, can we (as a plant-based community) just encourage everyone to eat a plant-based diet? Most people are not even eating broccoli, garlic, onions, fruit or vegetables; and we are definitely not getting enough fiber. So, before we mention specific foods that “might” help to prevent, treat or reverse disease, let’s do all we can to encourage everyone to eat a daily variety and volume of plant-based foods and give their bodies a chance to regulate and heal themselves.
6. Make food promises. One of the weirdest things in the diet industry is how food is marketed as a savior that can “transform” our lives. No doubt, food is important but it is only one part of a basic health routine that we need to practice. Sleep, sun, exercise and hydration are also important to physical health, as well as spiritual, mental, emotional and relational health. Instead of making food promises that food cannot keep, let’s remember that eating is a reflection of what we believe about ourselves and how we are designed to be nourished. Plant-based eating cannot save you but it is an important part of a healthy routine.
7. Get Greedy. The current state of health and a billion dollar diet and fitness industry are the results of a failed medical industry to provide leadership, education and put prevention before profits. The absence of properly educated doctors has created a huge gap that has been filled with an insane amount of marketable diets and exercise programs.
One of the main reasons that the plant-based eating movement has had so much success is because a handful of doctors have done the research and have worked together to support each other. These doctors have not allowed minor differences in opinion, ego or their own businesses to get in the way of the plant-based message. These wonderful doctors have worked hard to lay a solid foundation of research, truth and common sense that we can build and grow the plant-based movement. We can avoid the mistakes and confusion of a super competitive diet industry by working together to continue to make the plant-based message the main thing. So far, we have done that. I hope we see that continue.
8. Forget who we are. We have the opportunity to not tie our identity to food. Plant-based eating is something we do but it is not who we are. Let’s not get weird and huddle together in our own groups and demonize others. Let’s continue to create a space to help people practice health and encourage a way of eating that not only benefits them but will positively affect our communities, our cities, our nation and our planet. Let’s open our homes and dust off our pots and pans to make delicious plant-based meals for our friends and families; and create spaces that nourish our spirits, hearts, minds, bodies and relationships.
9. Be an expert/know it all. Ok, I need to work on this. Trust me, we are surrounded by so much fragmented information that everyone believes themselves to be an expert. Until a person is willing to do the real research, we are never going to convince them to eat plant-based, no matter how many facts, evidence-based research or China Studies we throw at them. So, eat your little plant-based heart out and show the world how amazing you look and feel. Do your thing, let your light shine and be your best self.
10. Create room for self-proclaimed experts. Doctors, I am begging you to better educate yourselves on nutrition and lead the way in a new health and wellness movement that brings back common sense and basic understanding to a culture full of misinformation and a market saturated with celebrity doctors and “diet’ experts. We need doctors who don’t just treat disease but help prevent it. We need doctors working together to rid our world of obesity and diet-related disease and sickness. Thank you, Dr. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. Michael Greger and Dr. Garth Davis for showing us what cooperation, integrity, commitment, perseverance and truth can do.