(US) Vegetarian types: Understanding plant-based diets
- [Mother Nature Network]
One of the wonderful things about being human is the fact that we can
eat — and thrive — on an incredible variety of diets. The breadth of
our consumption choices has allowed us to live and eat locally
everywhere on Earth, from the hot and humid equatorial regions to the
ice-packed and agriculture-unfriendly northern Canada. People can
survive on diets that are made up primarily of whale meat and blubber,
fruits and nuts, dairy and grains, or olives, seafood and herbs.
People can be vegetarians, and there are even various types of
There is no one "right" way to eat, though there are ways to eat that
are lower-impact, that have a lower carbon footprint, choices that
lead to less animal suffering, or diets that don't involve farming at
all. One thing that pretty much every health expert I have read or
spoken to agrees on for all people is that processed foods — all those
manufactured foods found in the middle of the grocery store, like most
cereals, chips, snack foods, pre-made meals, and sweetened drinks —
should be eaten sparingly or not at all. They are full of
preservatives, stabilizers, highly processed grains, artificial colors
and a lot of non-nutritive ingredients that are at best useless to the
body, leading to weight gain, and at worst downright harmful.
Because the state of our food systems, while more abundant (for those
of us lucky enough to live in the West) than ever before, is also less
healthy, many people swear by one type of eating, or follow a specific
diet that they will insist is right for everyone. The truth is that
nobody knows what's best for you except you. Not your mother, or your
best friend, or your partner or your coworker. The best course of
action is to educate yourself on the various types of diets, and then
try them out for yourself, and see what works for your lifestyle, your
budget and most of all, what feels best for your own body. Listening
to your body is the key to long-term health.
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