Tag Archives: Whole Food Plant Based

12 Fun Facts about Red Meat

by Leonardo Garcia © 2021

As evidence rolls in for the health benefits of adopting a whole food plant-based diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds), the case for dropping animal products (meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs) from our diets becomes compelling. Science continues to tease out the numerous mechanisms as to why the consumption of animal products is unhealthful and disease-promoting. Whether it is from saturated fat, cholesterol, TMAO, heme iron, nitrosamines, hormonal contamination, bacterial contamination, or the way each of these factors interact as a whole with our biology, the public gets mixed information due to roadblocks set up by aggressive marketing, lobbying campaigns, industry funded “science”, and, in some cases, the FDA, much in the way the tobacco industries attempted to cloud the relationship between smoking and lung cancer decades ago. Now, smoking has taken second place to poor diet in the leading cause of disease. Here are some facts about meat consumption to consider before your next meal.

  1. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lists the consumption of red and processed meats as carcinogenic.
  2. Red meat contains many harmful compounds in addition to saturated fat that include arachidonic acid (highly inflammatory omega 6 fatty acid), methionine (promotes cancer growth), trans-fatty acids (aka “trans-fats”), endogenous hormones like IGF-1 (promotes tumor growth), exogenous hormonal growth promoters, antibiotics, man-made contaminants (fertilizers, pcbs, pesticides), and formaldehyde, among others.
  3. Red meat contains bovine pathogens such as E. Coli and bovine spongiform encephalopathy which can lead to serious and life-threatening bacterial and viral infections.
  4. Steroid hormones in meat and dairy products are complicit in the risk factors for various cancers in humans.
  5. The digestion of meat raises Trimethylamine N-Oxide (TMAO) levels in blood dramatically. High TMAO blood levels are associated with cardiovascular disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. It is also associated with a dysfunctional microbiota.
  6. Controlled trials by Dr. Dean Ornish at the Preventative Medicine Research Institute led to an inverse relationship between health outcomes and the consumption of animal products (red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy).
  7. Reversal of coronary heart disease was achieved by eliminating meat, dairy, fish, and oil from patients’ diets during a clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.
  8. In metabolic ward studies, interventional studies, and randomized clinical trials, an increase in saturated fat from dietary sources (meat, dairy, eggs) led to an increase in LDL cholesterol. High LDL levels are a primary indicator of coronary heart disease.
  9. There is a strong correlation between diets high in dietary cholesterol (meat, eggs, dairy) and elevated risks of stomach, colon, rectum, pancreas, lung, breast, testicular, kidney, and bladder cancers.
  10. The water footprint of producing red meat is devastating our environment. It takes approximately 1800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef (roughly 30 gallons/1 g of protein) whereas it takes approximately 500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of chickpeas (roughly 5 gallons/1g of protein). A pound of potatoes only takes 34 gallons.
  11. The carbon footprint of beef is 25x more than that of beans and peas combined.
  12. Methane, a greenhouse gas and powerful driver of climate change, emissions from cattle has far more impact on global warming than previously thought.

Maximize Nutrition and Recovery with a Whole Food Plant Based Diet

by Leonardo Garcia © 2021

If there were a Dr. Michael Greger action figure, there would be one in my kitchen. I discovered his www.nutrtionfacts.org years ago and then read his How Not to Die and more recently his How Not to Diet. The nearly 5000 citations from carefully scrutinized science studies and publications is enough to make you giddy with science.

And, yes, there is a whole section on Keto diets and what the science says. I’ve encouraged all my friends who have tried keto to watch the keto video series on nutrtionfacts.org and to read his How Not to Diet. I’ve also encouraged friends to read these books if they simply want some evidence-based guidance to maximize their health.

There is a better path for health and for those wanting to reach a healthy weight. A few of the studies that stood out from his books have showed that low-carb diets increased mortality from ALL causes. The longest lived populations around the world eat high carbohydrate diets centered around whole foods: sweet potatoes, whole grains, vegetables, fruit, etc… There is often a confusion in the fitness industry where all carbohydrate = bad. Processed carbohydrates like white flour, white bread, white rice, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, are indeed unhealthful foods – high in calories and lacking any nutritive value. But whole grains, rich in fiber, minerals, nutrients, and protein, are a different matter all together. Which is perhaps why they lower your risks of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and chronic inflammation.

Simply following a whole food plant based diet led to the most profound health changes I’ve experienced: from a better mood and energy to better athletic performance to better sleep. What I fuel my body with is making me healthier and not mortgaging my health for short term optics. 


So, after years of eating a whole food plant based diet, I thought I’d share what a typical lunch looks like. I tend to run or workout before a late lunch so it is the largest meal in volume but perhaps not in calories (though there are plenty). I aim to get as many raw vegetables of as many varieties and colors as I can. Before rinsing and throwing everything into my salad bowl I had a handful of strawberries that were sitting on the counter and ate a few handfuls of baby arugula because it would not fit. In the bowl you’ll see some sprouts (a mix), carrots, red cabbage, broccolini, a red and yellow pepper, and an heirloom navel orange. By the end of this meal I will have had 10-12 servings of veggies and about 7-8 servings of fruit (including what I had at breakfast). This way, anything at dinner is a bonus! 


I’ll also try to include some lightly steamed dark leafy greens with some spices. In the smaller bowl you’ll see some purple and green kale with granulated garlic, chipotle powder, oregano, and a splash of apple cider vinegar below a pile of black beans with salsa. Typically, I’d also have a pile of quinoa or millet or some whole grain but I was too hungry to wait for that to cook and the fridge didn’t have leftovers. I’ll get them at dinner. After all of this, I’ll grab a date or two and a few walnuts.

Maybe the next post will have a picture of breakfast!

14 Tips to Lose Weight on a Plant Based Diet

Switching to a plant-based diet from a western or fatty animal-heavy diet to lose weight, unlike other diets, is a healthy choice. A healthy plant-based diet aligns perfectly with optimal health, reversing many chronic lifestyle induced diseases and maladies, and as a side benefit, weight will come off. All plant-based diets are not created equal though.

The healthiest for chronic health issues is an sos (salt oil sugar free) whole food plant based diet (wfpb). A wfpb diet consists of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, starches, legumes, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices. There is a spectrum though. Sos wfpb is the healthiest diet. Even if you include a sprinkle of salt and sugar with it, it is still healthier than anything else. Add a little oil and it’s slightly less healthy, add vegan junk food (french fries are vegan) and fake processed meats and it becomes a lot less healthy, and real dairy and eggs and it becomes dramatically unhealthy, etc…

If you are having trouble losing weight on your current plant-based diet, try this for a month:

  1. Make sure you are eating sos wfpb meals and food.
  2. Drop out all sources of concentrated fats and calories (no nuts and seeds or avocados or breads)
  3. Drink a large glass of water upon waking and more throughout the day but don’t over hydrate.
  4. Eat more and a lot of raw fruits and vegetables.
  5. Eat very high water content foods (cucumbers, carrots, kale, arugula, romaine, melons, eggplant, apples, berries, celery). They will fill you up, you can gnaw all day, and you will be sated.
  6. Have a large satiating breakfast (oatmeal, berries, bananas).
  7. Eat a lot of whole grains and potatoes.
  8. Sleep more.
  9. Stop eating a few hours before bedtime. A good cutoff is 8:00.
  10. Walk more.
  11. Do a bit of bodyweight resistance exercises (body squats, lunges, pushups, planks, etc).
  12. Drink tea (skip the milks).
  13. Have a weekly dose of B12 or if you are older than 60 consult nutrionfacts.org for the correct recommendations.
  14. Do not count calories or waste your time with macros.

Your tastebuds will acclimate. I find that the tastier the food, the more my appetite grows. Keep it simple. You’ll appreciate the taste fo fruits and the subtleties of vegetables more. You’ll feel great.

The Beauty of a Vegan Whole Food Plant Based Diet for Athletes

Here is a quick list of how a Vegan Whole Food Plant Based (VWFPB) diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, starches, and some seeds and nuts, will help you achieve better athletic performance.

Antioxidant power – Strenuous exercise elevates oxygen metabolism, and unfortunately as a byproduct, free radicals. Antioxidants are needed to counter free radicals. Though exercise enhances our body’s ability to produce antioxidants leading to positive adaptions, a diet rich in antioxidants helps mitigate the oxidative stress induced by too much strenuous exercise. So eat spinach, dark leafy greens, broccoli, cherries, berries, and citrus. Drink hibiscus and green teas.

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Increased arterial function – Eating animal foods and fatty processed foods high in saturated and poly-unsaturated fats impairs arterial function for hours after consumption. With the omission of these offending foods, arterial function is optimized and circulation is improved. This means more oxygen-rich blood delivered unhindered to muscles doing hard work.

Nitrates – Consuming vegetables high in nitrates improves athletic performance. Basically, your body can do more with less oxygen. This increases endurance. Eat beets, dark leafy greens like spinach and arugula, celery, fennel seeds, and other high nitrate foods.  Article Link

Recovery – Scott Jurek! Nutrition Facts article.

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Anti-Inflammation – Though most vegetables and fruits have some anti-inflammatory properties, there are some that have been studied and reported on more readily in an attempt to create new supplements. However, science shows us again and again that whole foods trump the extracted single-component when it comes to promoting health benefits. Some new discoveries: Ginger has been shown to work better than NSAIDS in post-exercise soreness. The various pigments in turmeric help reduce inflammation. Purple potatoes and cherries also contain beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming at least four servings of legumes a week has shown to dramatically decrease c-reactive protein levels (a marker for inflammation) in the blood after several weeks.

So load up on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and skip the oils, meats, dairy, and eggs.