Diets That That Support Plant-Based Food Consumption with Tara Haddad

An Evaluation of Five Diets and their Compatibility With a Lifestyle of Plant-Based Eating

Over the last twenty years or so, a string of fashionable diets has made impressive gains in North America. Whereas, in previous generations, most Canadians and Americans were raised on the Western pattern diet (a predominantly unhealthy style of eating involving lots of red meat, refined sugars, and heavily processed food), lately, attitudes have shifted in favor of healthier alternatives, allowing space for other dietary models to emerge.

Among the most popular of these are the Paleo diet, the Mediterranean diet, the ketogenic diet, the raw food diet, and the vegan diet. Indeed, these days, there are a wealth of choices for those wishing to lose weight and eat healthy. That being said, there is a small but growing segment of the population that has already embraced the benefits of a chiefly plant-based diet, but also wishes to shed a few unwanted pounds or further improve their health. For those who already consume predominantly plant-based foods, which of these diets is compatible with their existing lifestyle? As a means of answering this question, Tara Haddad provides a concise rundown of each of the above listed dietary models accompanied by a verdict.

Tara Haddad is currently the CEO of Modern Meat Inc., a company specializing in the creation and manufacture of alternative protein-based cuisine based out of Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Paleo Diet

According to Tara, “The Paleo (short for Palaeolithic) diet endeavors to recreate the eating habits of human beings before the advent of crop farming and animal domestication”. Essentially, people who adopt the Paleo diet try to emulate what our hunter/gatherer ancestors would have eaten in the Palaeolithic era, anywhere between two million and ten thousand years ago. This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and some lean meats, such as venison or other wild game. It excludes any foods that might have been grown or raised on a farm, such as legumes, grains, all forms of dairy, and any meat products derived from livestock herds or animal husbandry (beef, pork, chicken, etc.).

Verdict: mostly plant-based diet friendly.

Notes: the absence of grains of any kind are substantial downside.

The Mediterranean Diet

This diet is directly modeled on the traditional eating habits of the inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin, encompassing the cuisines of Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and Morocco, amongst others. Some of the main staples of the Mediterranean diet are vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, olive oil, garlic, organic herbs, with a heavy emphasis on chick peas and lentils. Fish and poultry are generally consumed only once or twice weekly.

Verdict: mostly plant-based diet friendly.

Notes: probably the tastiest and most versatile diet on this list.

The Ketogenic Diet

Initially developed to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children, the ketogenic diet (keto) aims to ween the body off of using the glucose derived from carbohydrates as fuel. In its place, this diet is designed to force the liver to produce ketone bodies from stored fat, which the body can use as an alternate source of energy. As might be surmised after such a description, the ketogenic diet mandates virtually no carbohydrates whatsoever — fewer than fifty grams per day — and large quantities of fat. Since eating dairy and red meat all day long is unhealthy and costly, followers of keto generally buttress their meals with liberal helpings of avocados, coconuts, Brazil nuts, seeds, and oily fish.

Verdict: plant-based diet unfriendly.

Notes: for those who primarily consume plants as food, adopting the keto diet will make it difficult meet their daily nutrition requirements. There are other, more severe medical risks in espousing keto, as well.

The Raw Food Diet

The raw food diet, or ‘raw foodism’ as it is sometimes known, has three simple ideas at its core: consuming food that is not processed in any way, is mostly plant-based, and is, ideally, organic. Adherents of this diet believe that two-thirds to three-quarters of all foods ought to be ingested uncooked. Some of the favored victuals of raw foodists include fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and vegetables, fresh juices, nuts, nut butters, nut milks, seeds, legumes, seaweed, algae, and fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut. Raw eggs, raw fish, and dried meats are also permitted.

Verdict: very plant-based diet friendly.

Notes: as the term ‘raw foodism’ implies, this is not only a diet, but something of a movement, as well. Many proponents of the raw food diet are also vegans.

The Vegan Diet

“Just as raw foodism is one part diet and one part movement, so veganism is one part diet and one part philosophy” claims Tara. Although the health benefits of a vegan diet are considerable, Tara Haddad says most who adopt it are motivated by moral conviction. Vegans do not consume any food or drink derived from either an animal’s body (such as milk) or labor (such as honey) because they view such foods to be exploitative. As such, a vegan diet relies heavily on fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and bean derivatives like tofu.

Verdict: totally, one hundred percent plant-based diet friendly.

Notes: certain vitamins and minerals may have to be supplemented in order to maintain a balanced diet. These include calcium, zinc, iodine, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron.