In Defense of Food

August 1, 2017

Eat food; not too much; mostly plants – so says Michael Pollan, Berkeley Professor, and one of my favorite authors. Although Dr. Pollan is not a vegetarian, he is 100% responsible for my giving up meat entirely a decade ago. I made the mistake (ha ha!) of reading his book about what goes on in the meat industry – and after about 30 pages, I never ate a piece of meat again. 

His latest documentary, In Defense of Food, including information from his book of the same name, is very interesting. Although I clearly do not agree that it’s okay to have meat from time to time, his research, expert interviews, research study conclusions, and especially his history of food are absolutely fascinating. Although I have a made a hobby of reading and watching information related to health and diet, I always learn a little more. Some interesting tidbits: 

  • Studies of vegetarians vs. non-vegetarians in 7th Day Adventist communities (with their focus generally on health) shows a direct correlation between length of life in plant-only eaters. We plant-only eaters live significantly longer in 7th Day Adventist communities, and even longer in the population of the US generally speaking. (That’s why it’s very curious why Dr. Pollan would advocate for eating meat as a “treat.” It doesn’t change the fact that these studies he mentioned, as well as many more I can reference, show that eating meat, like pretty much ever, is horrible for you.) 
  • Several decades ago, basically for most of my childhood, there was a big “fat free” fad. The reason for that was a series of studies from one scientist that showed a direct relationship between the fat consumed in meat and heart attacks. The problem was that when he went to Congress to recommend that people eat less meat, the meat industry completely had a field day (big shock.) As a result, the wording of the new eating guidelines went from “eat less meat” to “eat less saturated fat.” Of course, that led to big food producers getting rid of the saturated fat and replacing it with something far, far worse. The result has been a huge increase in heart disease and diabetes over the past few decades. 
  • Nature provides ways for us to get the nutrition we need wherever we are. In other words, if we live in the desert, the Arctic, the mountains – wherever – we can get what we need nutritionally speaking from the world around us. 
  • We need to concentrate on the areas of the grocery store that lay in the outer edges – so mostly plants. Just skip the center entirely – so all the packaged, canned foods. 
  • Research shows that when we are presented with fruits and vegetables in a food line first – guess what? We’ll actually eat them. More importantly, children actually do enjoy fruits and vegetables when they are given the opportunity to eat them! 

I think this film is worth watching. I do wish that Dr. Pollan would think about cutting out meat entirely from his diet and I wish he would reconsider leaving it as an option. He needs to keep in mind that the meat and dairy industry are the biggest contributors to climate change on the planet! (And, I know that he advocates for “naturally fed” animals and all that nonsense, but an innocent animal still has to die – so skip it.) 

So, it’s simple. Eat plants and live.

Genesis 1:30 (NRSV): And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of:


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