The Plant (Based) Paradox


Feeling the pressure to hop on the "plant-based" bandwagon?  Don't ditch the steak just yet.  Here, some thoughts on the semantics of this buzzed-about diet.

Ask seven dietitians what it means to be "plant-based" and you'll get seven different answers.  One may define the way of eating as vegan, another, vegetarian, and yet another may spout a definition ripped from a documentary.

According to the "wisdom" of Forks Over Knives, the plant-based diet is "based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil." 

So here's where I have a (T) bone to pick...

If one is to follow tried and true MyPlate recommendations, isn't he or she adhering to the above guidelines?  You know, the easy-to-follow ACTUAL wisdom of filling half your plate with veggies, choosing whole grains more often than not, varying protein, and limiting said choice to a quarter of your plate?  Given the fact that grains are in fact plants, I'd argue that MyPlate is indeed a plant-based way of eating.  I won't call it a diet as other included recommendations make MyPlate more conducive to an overall, sustainable, lifestyle.  

Back to that bone though...

I make no bones about it: portion-appropriate servings of meat (I favor beef for its satiety and nutrient density) are a staple on MY plate.  Sure, you could meet your protein needs sans animal products, but it takes A LOT of planning for someone like myself to get the same muscle-building benefits for the same amount of calories.  Personally, I'd rather enjoy my food than spend more time working out the details of counting grams, combining foods to achieve optimal amino acid intake, and, quite frankly, missing out on a good steak.  

Moreover, what if I told you...

Beef is the original plant-based protein?  


Here's how it works: cattle don't simply digest plant leftovers such as forage.  They're able to convert a pound of inedible plants to 1.19 pounds of protein rich in B vitamins, iron, and zinc.  Do the math: cattle are returning 20% on a plant investment.  I'd call that some serious bang for your buck!  For more on beef's role in a sustainable food system, click here.  

Include lean beef on a plate featuring leafy greens, whole grains, and perhaps an avocado or nuts for a meal that's undeniably plant-based.  And hey, let's maybe talk less about diets and more about habits.

Enjoy your food.  Enjoy your life!!!