This series started with Food, as simple as it gets.  We offered Michael Pollan’s 3 simple food rules:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” 

We got into more detail with Part 2 – What is food, followed by Part 3 – How much, and now this, Part 4 – Mostly plants.

Pollan set out to sort through his confusion around a basic yet profoundly important question: how do I feed myself and my family to support good health and minimize the risk of diet and lifestyle-related disease?

He supports his basic conclusions – including “mostly plants” – with simple facts:

  1. The Standard American Diet (SAD) generally consists of lots of processed foods and meat, added fat and sugar, refined grains, and lots of everything else except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. And we invariably suffer from high rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.  Virtually all of the obesity and type 2 diabetes, 80% of the cardiovascular disease, and a third of all cancers can be linked to this diet.
  2. People eat a remarkably wide range of traditional (a.k.a. whole food) diets and generally do not suffer from these diseases. This suggests there is no single ideal diet but instead we humans are amazingly adaptive to a variety of diets – except the SAD diet. That one makes us really sick.
  3. People who get off the SAD – and emphasize vegetables, fruits, and whole grains – see dramatic improvements to their health. Pretty quickly, too.

You are unlikely to find studies linking a plant-based diet to a negative health condition. Excessive animal protein (specifically saturated fats) – yes. Processed foods and refined flour products- yes. Sugar – yes. But plants? No.

“Mostly plants” doesn’t mean exclusively. Not vegetarian. Not vegan. If you like meat, eat some meat. If grains work well for you – as they do for millions perhaps billions of people on the planet – eat some grains. If you tolerate some dairy and cheese – enjoy.  Just eat mostly plants.

There are lots of ways to do this, and we’ll be exploring in future posts. For now:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  

And we add;

“Keep it simple. Make it personal. Make it sustainable.”


NOTE: For those interested in reading further, Pollan’s Eater’s Manifesto is a great short read. And for a full take on his top three guidelines, there is Food Rules.  We’ve got a few copies in the office if you want to borrow one. Pollan fully supports his writing with research and citations. Most can be found in “In Defense of Food”.

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