Another beacon of information that will help to change the world
Since I first began learning about plant-based nutrition in 2002, Dr. McDougall has been one of my heroes. I have learned a great deal from his many books and I attended one of his weekend programs in California a few years ago. His latest book, filled with powerful information, success stories and lots of great recipes—will help to open the eyes of millions of people.
Like the other four pioneering medical doctors featured in our book, he has demonstrated to the world that we should be eating a whole foods, plant-based diet. By eating mostly whole plants, we promote our own vibrant health and prevent or reverse most chronic diseases and do some wonderful things for the planet all at the same time.
Why does he call it starch-based? When you think about the typical western diet, you would call it meat-based. The main course is almost always some kind of meat or fish, and most Americans don’t even consider it a meal if that piece of meat is missing. But Dr. McDougall has known for a long time that the vast majority of the billions of humans that have lived on this plant have eaten very little meat. They have gotten the majority of their calories from the starchy food that was available in their region—whether it was potatoes, beans, grains, squash or some combination.
In this great book, he de-bunks the protein myth and the other myth about our need to limit our intake of starchy foods. He explains how we can get all the calories, protein, fiber and other nutrients from as few as one single plant—the potato (in Chapter 7). While he also recommends a broad array of fruits and green leafy vegetables, his main premise is that we should be eating essentially a starch-based diet.
It works for me. Some of the pioneering M.D.s may lean toward recommending more fruits and vegetables and less starches. But in my own case, I have ended up with a diet that is closest to what Dr. McDougall is recommending. I did quite a bit of experimenting in the early years from 2002 to 2004 when I was getting started—beginning with more vegetables and fruits and less starches.
In those early days of experimentation, I found that I would often get hungry between meals and began to gradually add more grains, legumes, and potatoes to my diet. Nowadays, almost every meal contains some kind of starch—just like Dr. McDougall is recommending in this book.
Different strokes for different folks. While I have gradually drifted to a starch-based diet myself, I really think it’s all a matter of individual preference. I know some very healthy fruitarians and raw food-ists out there who are very satisfied with their dietary preference. I also know that millions of people who have followed the dietary advice of Esselstyn, Barnard, Fuhrman and Ornish—have reversed their chronic diseases and enjoy vibrant health every day of their lives.
As for individual preference, we intentionally built as much flexibility into our 4Leaf Program as possible. We know that all five of these fine doctors agree with this simple statement by Dr. Campbell, “The closer we get to a whole foods, plant-based diet, the better off we will be.” So in our 4Leaf Program, we encourage people to shoot for 80% or more of their daily calories from whole plants.
The “big picture.” In Chapter 6, Dr. McDougall covers some widespread global issues that are driven by our ever-growing consumption of the western diet, beginning with our own health and the unsustainable cost of health care. He also covers such environmental issues as global warming, land damage, energy conservation and our ability to feed an ever-growing population. On page 71, he writes:
We are burning the candle at both ends, pushing the extremes of heat and cold, fire and ice. Without intervention, many scientists predict our planet Earth will become inhospitable to human life, and then to any form of life at all.
Answers to Questions. Part II does a great job of dispelling the “protein myth” and the “calcium myth” that most people have had drilled into their heads for their entire lives. He also covers the problems with seafood and points out why many vegans are fat and unhealthy. Like me, he is not a big fan of fake meats or cheeses.
Finally, Part III is chock full of information about how to make this diet-style successful in your home. It contains meal plans, recipes and a great chart on page 204 comparing the cost of fast foods to the bargain-basement cost of various starches. Example: $17.06 for 2500 calories of Taco Bell Chicken Salad compared to $1.52 for the same number of calories of brown rice.
I should point out that I think I found one omission on page 189. In his list of foods to avoid, he didn’t mention fish, although he had made his views very clear earlier—Don’t eat it!! He’ll probably add fish to that list in the second printing.
The Bottom Line. Excellent book that will resonate with millions of people who don’t want to give up the food they love. With this book, they’ll learn how to take charge of their health, enjoy their meals more than ever—while doing magnificent things for the environment—all at the same time.
Handy 3-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Our book: Healthy Eating, Healthy World by yours truly & son
- An essential nutrition resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation