As explained in our film, “PlantPure” was selected as a term for describing a whole-food, plant-based diet because it is suggestive of Nature. Nature is pure … perhaps the only experience we will have in this earthly life that is indeed perfect.
Importantly, we do not mean that people should be purists in their eating habits. There is a school of thought in the plant-based community that salt and sugar, as well as nuts, avocados, and other plant foods high in natural fat, should never be consumed. We don’t subscribe to this.
First, nuts, seeds, avocados, and other whole-plant foods high in natural fat are essential to a healthy diet. Research is increasingly demonstrating this fact. The argument against natural fat in whole, plant-based foods is the same reductionist thinking used by the dairy industry to advocate for milk consumption. Milk contains calcium and calcium is a building material for bones, so the dairy industry has argued for years that we should consume milk. Yet, science is now showing that milk and other foods high in animal protein cause calcium to leach from the bones and then get excreted in the urine.
Biology is complex — infinitely so. What matters most is not the presence of calcium in milk, but the wholistic effects of milk on the body. Likewise, what matters most with plant foods high in fat is the way they are utilized in context by the body, and research is showing these plant foods to be beneficial.
Of course, we don’t advocate eating more than a modest amount of these high-fat plant foods (for example, just a healthy handful with your oatmeal or cereal in the morning). But we need these foods in our diet.
Salt and sugar are in a different category. Adding extra salt and sugar out of their natural context is not essential to our diet. We believe it is important, however, that people should be free to eat food with flavors they enjoy. We will not change the world around the idea of plant-based nutrition if we tell people they must give up the food they love for food that tastes bland.
The PlantPure culinary philosophy allows for modest levels of added salt and sugar, based on the assumption that as people experience the benefits of this diet, they will do their best to reduce these ingredients as much as possible over time. Taste preferences change, so once we become accustomed to a low-salt and low-sugar diet, we discover that these flavors “pop” at low amounts.
The PlantPure culinary philosophy also allows people the opportunity to have, now and then, a fun dessert and even a glass of beer or wine.
The only ingredient we advocate avoiding as much as possible is added oil. This ingredient is not necessary to the creation of great-tasting meals; it is possible to create flavor without oil. An argument can be made that very small amounts of oil (like a very small splash of sesame oil in a kale dish) is likely to do little or no harm, but the problem is that many people have difficulty drawing the line with oil. A little can easily turn into too much. So we suggest just staying away from it.
Our science advisor, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, has long maintained that you get most of the potential health benefit from dietary change simply by moving to a whole-food, plant-based diet. Becoming a purist is not likely to create much additional gain, and whatever gain might appear pales in comparison to the gain from going plant-based. In his view, we can gain more than 95% of the potential health benefit by moving to a diet as described above. We can quibble about whether we can add another incremental benefit by becoming purists, but why do this when the cost is a diet deficient in flavor? Our goal is not to motivate a small number of purists, but to launch a revolution that transforms society.
There are two impulses present in many of us. One is the impulse to be “right” and to judge those who are “wrong.” The other is the humble, nonjudgmental impulse to love. We favor the second, knowing that love is the more powerful, more transformational choice. And we love our neighbors and the larger world when we give them a plant-based option that is joyful.
This statement was reviewed and approved by our science advisor, Dr. T. Colin Campbell.