Health & Wellness Publications

Have Healthy Nutrition Extremists Gone Over the Edge


“No Oil”, “Stop Juicing”, “Overconsumption”, “Smoothies are no longer good for you”; what the hell is going on?  Have the traditional vegan and plant-based leaders gone bonkers?  Are they so desperate for attention and money that they have to continue to go to extremes to make themselves seem relevant? This is and has developed into a ‘cult like’ approach of extremes.  What is going on?

Recently, in one of the many groups I follow and participate with, there is now a thing against juicing fresh greens and fruits in smoothies that I love.  I typically stuff my Vitamix full of kale and fresh greens (several varieties of kale I grow on our patio) with some bananas, fresh or frozen fruit (usually organic wild blueberries and previously cut up pineapple) and store it in ½ gallon glass jars that will last me a couple of days. 

Now I’ve been told that this is no longer considered ‘healthy’ as it separates the fructose from the fiber and that seems, now at least, to be a no-no.  What is going on?  When did eating raw greens, fruit and some veg become a bad thing, or at least no longer recommended; especially with vegan and plant-based proponents?  Doesn’t chewing the same thing perform a similar function; just takes a lot longer.  Yes, I know that proper mastication and saliva does some ‘pre-digestive’ processing and signaling to the stomach but is avoiding this quick easy (presumably healthier) way of ingesting raw greens, fruits and vegetables now somehow not healthy?

This smoothie preparation is also now considered ‘over consumption’.  What?  How can you ever eat too many greens, vegetables and fruit?  What the hell is this now? A cult of health police that want to regulate how you consume your HEALTHY nutrients?  I guess they have embraced the idea of ‘too much of a good thing’ is bad for you approach to healthy living? Me; not so much.  Give me my greens; this lifestyle has saved my LIFE!

Then there is the “No Oil’ movement; mostly instigated by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. in his dietary approach (Plant Based) treatment for heart disease.  Well if you have clogged arteries and heart disease, a ‘no oil’ approach may be a great idea but what about the rest of us?  No one recipe can fit everyone.  This is now a trend and seen in a lot of new cookbooks.

Have you seen some of these doctors?  They used to look pretty healthy.  From Dr. John McDougall to Dr. Neil Barnard and yes, Dr. Esselstyn they really look like scarecrows, at least in my humble opinion.  Is that really healthy?  What happened to the glowing complexion that most of us Plant Based folks display, the energy levels we have and the mental focus we have achieved?  Is this all now, not recommended?  (We do separate the ethical vegans from the rest as they have a totally different motivation: helping animals.  We, on the other hand, focus on the overall health and wellness that can be achieved with a Plant Based Lifestyle; it also reduces the demand for animal products.)

Do we use oil?  Yes, in limited quantities.  It is a processed food and we do prefer and recommend extra-virgin olive oil over coconut oil and other overly processed fats. We also use grape seed oil as you really just need a bit of oil to brown/crisp tofu!  While you can bake it, just not the same!

Juicing with a mechanical juicer does remove most of the fiber but you are able to consume a large amount of nutrients that you could not otherwise consume because the fiber content would just fill you over the top.  In some cases, juicing and often extreme juicing is a great way to compensate for poor nutrition as a remedial approach to boosting consumption of nutrient dense food.  We often recommend this as a nutrition source for chemo patients and others who just don’t feel like eating; but can drink a glass of fresh raw veg-green juice.  It is also a great way to ‘cleanse’ the body and helps speed the adoption of a plant based lifestyle and disease reversal approach to healthier living. (We do NOT recommend store bought fruit juice because it IS mostly sugar).

Eating/chewing your vegetables, greens (yes, I know they are veg) and fruit, nuts and seeds are the best way to eat naturally but sometimes you just have to consider a more practical approach. Weigh the alternatives to your diet and choose the healthier option.  Extreme positions are not doing anything to help promote plant based lifestyle and healthy living.

Can't we focus on Whole Food Plant Based Nutrition and admit that there is a scalar quality to any lifestyle. Yes, we DO recommend the total avoidance of ALL meat, fish, dairy and eggs as a solid foundation to a Plant Based Lifestyle but rare exceptions are often helpful.  Even Dr. McDougall claims (probable facetiously) that he eats turkey at Thanksgiving. Sure, promote the BEST way but don't denigrate those unable (time, money) to follow this rigorous 'Best Way' path, to do so alienates many.

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Skip Stein is COO and Lifestyle Counselor at Whole Foods 4 Healthy Living near Orlando Florida. Under the subsidiary, Plant Based Healthstyle they promote a Plant Based Lifestyle for Nutritional Weight Loss, Disease Prevention and Disease Reversal.