A couple of years ago I met an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while for dinner. It had been too long, as we both had been busy with work and family. When I saw her, however, I have to admit that I was a little shocked. She had not only been busy with work and family, she was winning the “battle of the bulge.”
Now my friend wasn’t what most people would term “fat.” She simply wanted to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Many people say that they want to be healthier, but their actions often speak louder than words. My friend took the bull by the horns and she literally transformed how she eats.
What exactly did she do? In theory it was rather simple; in practice it was huge. To cut to the chase, she is now a vegan, and not a “part-time” vegan or an “only during the week” vegan. She adopted the vegan lifestyle and only eats a plant-based diet. As she said to me: “If it didn’t come from the earth, I don’t eat it.”
Several months after making the dietary shift, she noticed more than just weight loss. She had been taking a couple of medications that, as a result of her diet change, she no longer needed to take.
Increasing Plant Foods
It was my friend’s transformation that immediately came to mind when I read an article about the reissuing of Mark Bittman’s 1995 book “Leafy Greens.” Bittman, who is New York Times’ food and opinion columnist, also is someone who opted to increase the amount of plant food in his diet to help with weight loss.
In the book “Leafy Greens,” Bittman discusses 30 different types of greens — not just lettuce and spinach — and provides 120 recipes to help those who are making the commitment to maintain a healthy diet.
Bittman, however, takes a different approach than my friend and is not suggesting a total shift to a complete plant-based diet. In fact, in his next book, “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00,” which is due out in March, the idea is to eat two vegan meals per day, preferrably before 6 p.m.
Commit To Change
I’m with Bittman on this one. Committing to a completely vegan diet, may be too daunting for many. Adding more vegetables to the daily menu, however, can only have a positive outcome. The trick is getting more people to make these changes and then stick with it. I’ve watched enough episodes of “The Biggest Loser” to see how easy it can be to fall away from a healthy diet.
The opposition is fierce. Just look at how the kids are balking about the federal guidelines regarding school lunches. A high school in Kansas was behind the recent song parody video that was created to protest the new guidelines.
So how can consumers, including kids, be encouraged to make healthy food choices? I do believe education on the importance of eating produce and watching serving sizes must begin at a very young age. My colleague David Eddy asks on page 4 if some type of assessment would be appropriate to help increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.
On the plus side, there seem to be more and more celebrity chefs highlighting a variety of vegetables in their dishes. I’ve also seen an increase in the number of commercials that feature growers, showcasing what they are producing.
This is good news for those who are taking the message to heart, but it is still an uphill battle with those who have not.