I often wonder to myself why the Paleo movement wins a lot of supporters. The science suggesting a plant-based diet is healthiest is extensive.
Yet the Paleo Diet seems to grow more and more popular everyday. Are people seeing the science condemning animal products and ignoring it?
Not a fair fight.
Unfortunately, the “battle” over hearts and minds of American eaters is not a fair fight. Imagine a scenario:
You are interested in improving your health, and you google information about healthy diets. Maybe you stumble upon a post about the world’s Blue Zones, areas of extreme longevity. You learn that these people all consume plant-based diets (See my post Blue Zones: How To Live To 100 Years!).
You then go on to search for more information about plant-based nutrition. You find nutritionfacts.org, the work of Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and are surprised to learn about the benefits of eating a whole foods plant-based diet.
Yet, something deep within you is worried. Maybe there is a nagging concern over protein, or some other nutrient.
But maybe it’s more basic than that. Maybe you are just super bummed that you have to give up meat, dairy, and eggs to follow this diet. You don’t want to do that! Those are your three favorite food groups!
Discouraged that so much science points toward this pattern of eating for preventing and reversing disease, you continue to google for alternative theories.
This is when you stumble upon the Paleo camp.
Eureka! A diet that not only allows me to eat meat, but tells me it is “the most nutrient dense food on the planet!” Now this I can get on board with!
Nevermind the glaring lack of practicing physicians treating their patients with this diet (like Drs. Esselstyn, McDougall, and Ornish do with plant-based vegan diets), or any long-term studies showing it’s benefit in treating and reversing chronic disease.
That doesn’t bother you as long as someone is telling you that meat is in fact good for you and should be the center of your plate!
You keep reading, and since there needs to be a scapegoat, you start to believe that the only problem in the American diet is sugar. Sugar is supposedly the only cause of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in America. And since all carbohydrates break down into sugar, you start to believe that whole grains, beans, and yes, even fruit, cause obesity!
Nevermind the fact that Americans eat more meat, more cheese, more saturated fat than any other nation on planet Earth. It’s gotta be the carbs, man.
Paleo has a distinct advantage in winning the hearts and minds of discouraged, confused, unhealthy eaters. Paleo tells you we are designed to eat animals, and celebrates these foods as the centerpiece of a “healthy” diet.
Vegan and plant-based tells you the truth – that we are not suited for these foods, they don’t do our bodies any good, we can get everything we need from plants, and that those who follow plant-based diets live the longest lives of any human beings on the planet!
I believe that we will win.
I believe the truth will win. But it’s an uphill battle, because people love to hear good news about their bad habits. Vegan activists have an uphill battle because we are trying to take away foods that people love (or more accurately persuade people to take them away themselves).
But the vegan and plant-based lifestyle can be aspirational as well.
The stories of transformation, the 30, 40, 50, 100, 200 pounds lost, the skin clearing up, the energy boost, the athletic performances, the compassion for animals, the lighter load on the environment, all make this lifestyle aspirational.
Celebrate the good that your lifestyle provides. Yes, we have to talk about taking away beloved foods, but never forget that in their place comes a whole new world of incredible benefit.
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