Funny you should write this article. This past June, the Denver post published an article focused on Joel Fuhrman's "Nutritarian" concept, but they led off with a statement that vegetarians are defined by what they don't eat. Gah! They only allow 150 word letters to the editor so I responded as best I could. Below is my response which was published in the June 10th edition. Best regards.
Re: “Nutrition ambition fuels a new appetite,” June 7 fitness article.
It was nice to see the article about eating a nutrient-dense diet, the “nutritarian” diet. But why would the author lead the story with the statement that “Vegetarians are defined by what they shun — meat”? It seems pretty obvious that vegetarians are defined by what they do eat — a plant-centered diet.
It is true that many people do not adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet because both are perceived as diets of rejection and denial. Who wants to live a life of denial, especially regarding something as rewarding as eating delicious food? Not many people, including vegetarians. The reason so many people, about 6 percent us, can sustain as longtime vegetarians is not because they are disciplined and willing to suffer for the animals, for the environment or for good health. They endure as vegetarians because, in addition to benefitting the animals, the environment and their own health, they understand that a plant-centered diet is a diet of abundance, of variety and of deliciousness.
Steve Billig, Denver
The writer is director of the Vegetarian Nutrition Center of Colorado.
This letter was published in the June 10 edition.
If you read the whole article, you'll find a much more skeptical conclusion about the adequacy of plant-based omega 3 intake vs. pre-formed long-chain EPA and DHA from marine sources.
I Googled the author, Craig Weatherby. It turns out that he is the Director of Online Marketing and Content at Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics.
This article is troublesome in several ways. The beauty of a vegan diet is its nutritional diversity and density. The idea of eliminating the powerhouse nutritional density of nuts and seeds is a big mistake. Cutting back, sure. Eliminating, a big mistake.
Also, the discussion of excess fat calories being more fattening than excess carbs or protein is not accurate. Just look at the link between obesity and diets high in suga and refined grains. Virtually all excess calories are converted to fat. True, if it is already fat, that gets stored first. But excess anything is converted to fat. The body doesn't waste or dump energy from any source.
Finally, losing more than a pound a week is satisfying but bad practice. A pound a week represents about a daily 570 calorie deficit. Losing weight at the rates described in the article can cause metabolism to down-regulate. Plus, a higher deficit becomes a "diet" in the sense of a temporary way of eating. It is better to be patient and establish a sustainable way of eating, with minor adjustments to achieve a modest calorie deficit. People doing this are less likely to revert to the old way of eating once their weight goals have been reached.
First, regarding the protein comment to the article left by a reader: why are nuts and seeds viewed as a strong source of protein (which is maddeningly common)? The dominant characteristic of nuts and seeds is ... high fat, typicially in the range of 70-80% of calories. Yes, healthy fats, but calorically dense fats nonetheless. Nuts and seeds typically have between 10 - 15% of their calories from protein. That is comparable to what is found in grains. And I don't see people calling grains a marquee source of protein. In fact 10 - 15% is a good amount. But lets not go all gaga over nuts and seeds as a concentrated source of protein. Relying on nuts and seeds as a major source of protein is a good way to get fat. In a vegetarian or vegan diet, eating a variety of all food groups will easily deliver adequate protein. Of all the nutrional concerns vegetarians need to worry about, protein is not one of them (unless one's style of vegetarianism is a Coke and fries).
Secondly, regarding the Vegsource article, no duh! Adding calories will cause weight gain. So that's the rationale for leaving nuts and seeds out of the diet despite the abundance of good research that catalogs the health benefits of nuts and seeds? It really is not that hard to include nuts and seeds in a diet without blowing the calorie budget. If the outcome of this series of articles is to lead people to eliminate nuts and seeds from their diets, that would be an unfortunate result.
No posts published so far.
If nuts and seeds stop heart attacks, why is heart disease still the number one killer of all Americans?
And if someone still has fat on their body and they give up nuts as an experiment for 3 weeks, I seriously doubt they will have a heart attack. Excess weight, on the other hand, carries great risks.
Chef AJ looks good in whatever she chooses to wear. Lighten up folks.
Just wanted to point out there has been a new report by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluding nut consumption does not cause weight gain and may actually have a modest slimming effect. The report is based on a review of thirty-one studies in which subjects added nuts to their diet and replaced other foods with nuts. I happen to be terrible with computers so I can't link to the report but it was released by Reuters. Sorry to reignite this controversy but I couldn't resist. I doubt this will change many minds but I would still be interested to hear why this latest report doesn't hold water. Thanks
Yes, have seen that new one, which is a nut-industry funded study of a number of nut-industry studies, most of which studies actually had little to do with weight loss. In fact it "reviews" several of the same studies we already debunked, where nut-eaters were fed fewer calories during the study period when their weight started to go up, so that there would be no weight gain. In other words, it's another nonsense study from the free-spending nut industry.
A little busy right now, but we will be taking that one apart before too long. Meanwhile, Chef AJ has lost way more weight since this series of articles went up...doing nothing other than eliminate the "recommended" amount of daily nuts from her diet.
Nuts are great! They're healthy! But they're not "super foods" and the science, when it's actually examined and not just skimmed over, shows they do make most people gain weight if they simply add them and don't use them to replace.
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