What’s in a name?  In the case of food and eating habits, the name can say a lot.  There is so much confusion and noise out there on the subject of nutrition and what dietary lifestyle is best for humans.  Let’s try to simplify things a bit.

Vegetarianism

When a person says that they are vegetarian, what does that say about the kinds fo foods that they eat?  Most people who take on the monicker of vegetarian usually mean that they don’t eat animal foods except cheese, possibly some other dairy products and sometimes eggs.

Veganism

On the other hand, a strict vegan doesn’t eat anything that comes from an animal at all including no cheese, other dairy, eggs, etc.  The problem is, one can be a vegetarian or vegan and have a very unhealthy lifestyle and way of eating.  There are a lot of people who “don’t eat meat” but all they do eat is highly processed non-meat foods with empty calories and no real nutritional value.

Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB)

however, when a person says that they live a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle something completely different is then conveyed.  What this person is saying is that they eat a wide variety of four food groups:  vegetables, fruits, legumes/nuts, and whole grains.  This person, therefore, avoids processed foods, high simple sugar foods, processed oils and, of course, anything that has a “face or a mother”.

Healthy Longevity

So what is the optimal lifestyle that leads to healthy longevity?  That’s what we all want, right?  Most people strive to live a long time, but in a healthy and vibrant way.  No one, including me, wants to be 90 years old and sick all the time.  I do occasionally hear from patients this poor excuse: “we will all die of something, so why not eat what I want?”  This is a very near-sighted view on life and if they see the devastating effects of lifestyle choices that I see, then they probably wouldn’t be making that claim.  But, like lots of things in life, people want to feel good about their bad habits and poor choices.

When one looks at the preponderance of medial and scientific literature available at this time, it is abundantly clear that a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle is great for everyone.  There is nothing in the literature that has shown that eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grans and legumes/nuts leads to poor health or disease or is controversial in any way.  In fact, just the opposite is true – the evidence shows that a WFPB way leads to better health and the populations of people (blue zones) that eat mostly this way have a much lower incidence of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.  These are the diseases that plague much of the world today, base are essentially absent in the blue zones longevity.

Don’t make the mistake that many people make:  just avoiding animal-based foods is good enough.  This approach leads to many becoming junk-food vegans and leads to poor health and disease.  However, if you want to live longer in a healthy way, adopt a mostly whole-food, plant-based lifestyle flooding your body with nutrient dense, low calorie, power-packed food.