"As an academic nutritionist, I grapple on a daily basis with what I see as a central contradiction between nutrition theory and practice. On the one hand, our advice about health benefits, on diets mainly based on plants - fruits, vegetables and grains - has not changed in more than 50 years and is consistently supported by ongoing research. On the other hand, people seem increasingly confused about what they are supposed to eat to stay healthy."
Those are the thought provoking words of Marion Nestle, the author of the book Food Politics, and I have to say, I agree with her wholeheartedly. Plant-based diets go all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, so if you're looking for a tried-and-tested way to eat healthily, there is no diet more time-honoured than that which relies heavily on plants.
We are living in a time when the information we consume on diets is largely consistent, but in which people are still unsure of what to eat.
Why do we eat meat?
Plant foods are by and large more healthy than meats. While there isn't anything wrong with eating meat, per se; we must realise that our desire to eat meat comes more from tradition and culture, and that a diet which is rich in plant foods, rather than 'animal foods', is likely to be more healthy.
The value of research
I have learnt that absorbing as many different views as possible on diets and foods can provide you with a balanced view. It is important to read a 'devil's advocate' view, as well as an 'angel's advocate' view - i.e. look at two different viewpoints, and based on the evidence, form your own opinion. It is important to be objective, rather than subjective! Even if that means challenging assumptions which you may have had.
What's the answer?
In my view, the number one diet on the planet has to be a plant-based diet. This is based not only on a wealth of current research, but on evidence which goes back thousands of years. If health is your overall objective - getting to know different plant food ingredients, and following plant food recipes, is the way to make your diet central to a healthier lifestyle.
To learn more about why I feel this way, and about how our diets can be enriched by considering the integration of more plant-based foods, watch my youtube video on this subject.