top of page
Vegetarianism: A healthy choice or gateway to WPF?

August 2023 / by Cookhouse Hero

Like many people who bought a ticket on the WPF train, starting a plant-powered diet often began with a transition from omnivore to pescatarian (fish) to vegetarian, including CH. Egg yolks, dairy, butter, ghee, and processed plant-based foods are included in a vegetarian diet, so re-examining this approach might be beneficial.

  • Real Food Recipes: Cookie + Kate offers a simple and delish vegetarian caprese sandwich. LINK

  • In the News: Vegetarian Society explains all aspects of a vegetarian approach to eating. LINK

  • Feeding Families: Love & Lemons developed dairy-free vegetarian recipes for all tastes. LINK

original (10).jfif
Vegetarianism

(the relativity of a "healthy" diet)

CH BLOG - August 2023 / © by Cookhouse Hero / Reading time: 4.5 minutes

Compared to what?

     Compared to hard-core omnivores, transitioning to a WPF diet and lifestyle wasn't as challenging for me for three main reasons. One: I'm a chef and spending time in produce aisles and cooking in a well-organized kitchen were no-brainers. Two: I was a 90% vegetarian for years, with the occasional chicken soup when I was sick or a brat at a baseball game. Thus, I simply took one more step and decided to tackle letting go of dairy and eggs (I had given up butter and milk decades ago). Three: I've always been a fan of produce, legumes, and whole grains; apples and greens and lentils and barley have been a major aspect of my diet for years. Plus, my fascination with plants in a culinary-flavor sense has contributed to my relatively healthy diet, even before I dove into the WPF universe. Then, I woke up the day I received my type-2 diabetes diagnosis in 2018. And frankly, it was a slap in the face. After all, I was a 90% vegetarian who ate an abundance of produce and other nutrient-dense foods. What happened? Turns out, it was the veggie nachos, imported cold-press olive oil, and Greek yoghurt that did the dirty deed. My poor pancreas became insulin resistant because of eating an abundance of saturated fat (see link below). So, I took a step back and learned more about vegetarianism. 

I discovered that some vegetarians (and vegans) are getting sick and dying from chronic conditions such as heart disease, T2D, dementia, and autoimmune ailments. Like some omnivores. Whoa. 

Unsaturated-dietary fats and liver-created cholesterol are essential, but...

     Dietary fats are crucial to give the body energy and support cell growth. They also help protect organs, keep the body warm, absorb nutrients, and produce hormones. Yes, unsaturated fats are considered healthy fats and are absolutely necessary for optimal bodily functions. However, even too much of a good thing isn't so smart; eating tons of raw walnuts, avocados, and nut butter can clog up our arteries as well, and consuming more calories than needed causes unhealthy weight gain. Although there's some nutritional value in foods like olive oil (brain health via omega fatty acids) and yoghurt (probiotics via acidophilus cultures), the overall value of these types of foods don't negate their overall harm. Side note: this is why CH strongly encourages everyone to learn at least the basics on how to decipher research studies. Critical thinking is essential in the world of food science! In addition, cholesterol levels of a standard vegetarian diet can cause damage, too. Cholesterol is waxy type of fat called a lipid. Egg yolks, butter, ghee, cheese, other dairy products, and some processed plant-based foods are packed with cholesterol. Fun factoids: virtually every whole plant on Earth contains zero cholesterol, and cholesterol is an essential substance that our liver naturally creates. The human body is a wonder.

Although a vegetarian diet is healthier than eating fried chicken, hamburgers, and BBQ ribs, the prevalence of unhealthy fats, cholesterol, and processed plant-based foods can cause hospital visits.

What to do?

     The ideal diet and lifestyle is centered around whole plants as close to what Mother Nature and Father Time intended. It's the ONLY approach that's been clinically proven to reverse many/most chronic conditions. And the WPF diet is the universal nutritional standard from which to base all other approaches. This knowledge can hopefully motivate people to at least take a look at the foods and beverages in our daily choices. For many people, shifting from a hard-core omnivorous diet (filled with junk food, fat, and an over-abundance of empty calories) to eating a vegetarian diet (filled with plants and animal products such as dairy and eggs) is like a lovely cool wave on a hot day at the beach. We might feel more energy, our poop habits may improve, and our blood work numbers could show positive results.

 

    And yet... at what cost LONG TERM? Eventually, our body and brain tends to rebel and says a big nope to the harmful effects of saturated fat and cholesterol. This is science, no matter how clever marketing campaigns say otherwise. Also consider that the egg and dairy special-interest groups have deep pockets, and 90%+ dairy animals and chickens live horrific lives. If knowing about the harm of a vegetarian diet doesn't inspire us to tell the truth about unhealthy and inhumane food systems, the havoc released to our unstable eco-systems - due to food-animal farming - can be another motivating force for intelligent change. And yes, compared to carnivores, being a vegetarian is healthier. It's relative.

     I've watched hundreds of Nutrition Facts videos at this point in my research, and Dr Greger continuously asks the question: compared to what?! Consuming one cheese pizza is healthier than eating a massive bag of Doritos three times a day. Duh. Eating a plant-based, faux-vegan burger at McDonald's is healthier than eating an animal-based burger, even from grass-fed-free-range cattle. Duh, again. Grilling skinless chicken breasts is less harmful than KFC chicken nuggets. Duh, yet again. Most ten-year-olds can understand the relatively of these types of comparisons. We grown-ups are harder to convince, due to our unintentional food addictions and cravings from consuming a Western Diet since birth. To add insult to injury, our critical thinking skills have diminished via 24-hour "news" cycles, twisted marketing campaigns (fueled by corporate reputation departments), social media obsession, cancel culture politics, and special interests who intentionally want us sick and dumb. Say NO to the new normal. No, really. Please tune out the disinformation circus. 

I'm grateful that vegetarianism helped me transition to a WPF diet and lifestyle. And... I'm a mostly recovered food junkie who got T2D on a plant-forward vegetarian diet. Ouch.

 

 

     One more factoid: the last item that most WPF and vegan advocates give up is cheese. It contains an opioid compound called casomorphins from casein, the protein in mammal's milk. So, we're literally addicted to cheese/dairy, too. My own "heroin" was Greek yoghurt. Cookhouse Hero asks you to consider the WHOLE picture. It might just save your life.

Click on the links below and get inspired to eat more plants!

bottom of page