Believe me, I’m all in favor of a plant based diet, but all plants are not created equal.
One of the biggest problems is that in an attempt to satisfy our hunger, we go overboard on the carbs. Pasta, bread, potatoes and grains often pile up on our plates. And all of these carbs, even whole grains, will raise blood sugar, to varying degrees.
The standard macrobiotic diet recommends that half our consumption be of whole grains. That’s WAY too much.
Beans, nuts, seeds and grains and the oils made from them have yet another downside. Like animal foods, they all contain omega 6 fatty acids. (Notice I didn’t mention olive oil. It’s not a problem.) Omega 6s from animal foods get converted into inflammatory compounds in the body. In plant foods, the process could go either way—yielding either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory agents, depending on lots of other things going on in your body that you can’t necessarily control.
Raw food cookbooks have all sorts of scrumptious concoctions made largely from these ingredients— bean dips, crackers from seeds, fake cheeses and ice cream made from nuts. Yum. But watch your portions.
Fruits? Speaking of blood sugar, some are just entirely too sweet. Bananas, grapes, melons, for example. Dried fruits and juices. You can tell the bad guys with your taste buds. Go for apples, pears, berries instead. And grab some extra protein, fiber or fat to help keep your blood sugar more even.
What about the rest of the veggies? Even those are not all created equal. Again, sweet and/or starchy ones will raise blood sugar; again, combine with other foods and limit portions. Instead, load up on leafy greens, crucifers and alliums (the onion and garlic family, stinky but powerful.)
Is animal protein necessary? Under normal circumstances, probably not, other than the Vitamin B 12 issues, although I have to admit that when I do cheat, animal protein quells my insatiable desire to eat. There’s also something important in certain fish that our bodies can’t get efficiently from any other food source—long chain omega 3 fatty acids, which Dr. Andrew Weil can tell you all about. Of course, as my cousin- I’ve- never- met Dave Sugar might suggest, you could always take an algae supplement instead.