Since the publication of the large feeding study in BMJ last week, we have received conflicting comments from plant vs. animal based diet advocates. Plant-based advocates who most often lean toward lower fat have been more critical whereas animal-based advocates who lean toward higher fat have been more supportive. Although any way of eating can be low-fat or low-carb, this study seems to have truly highlighted the vast, polarized differences between people’s views on this topic.
The interesting part is that it doesn’t have to be a contentious topic. As a chef, my career has been built on setting aside judgment and providing delicious food for a variety of tastes, preferences, and even food allergies. There is common ground when we take the judgment out of the equation and let people choose what works best for them while utilizing the latest scientific evidence. The topic of welcoming all to our table is my take on how the Always Hungry Solution can de-polarize the animal vs plant question.
Primary Goals of AH
One of our primary goals in our programs is to meet people where they are on their health journey while encouraging them to expand their tastebuds as well as their knowledge of food and nutrition. We believe it is unrealistic and unproductive to present people with an extreme diet plan, and then expect them to be able to stick to it. We would much rather introduce our readers to a way of life that we actually follow. This allows people to see the Always Hungry Solution as a fulfilling, lifelong journey to health, rather than a strict plan with an arbitrary end goal in mind. This also lets people join the journey wherever they happen to be in their own lives.
We developed the Always Hungry Solution as a way to find common ground among a vast array of beliefs and lifestyles. I’m sure you can recognize this in your own life too, by simply viewing all the different types of eaters at your holiday table. Polarized health views can cause tension at the dinner table and in the health community as a whole. We understand that people feel very strongly about how they eat and how they believe others should eat as well. Hopefully, our readers can find common ground in AH.
Honoring People’s Choices
A large part of being inclusive and honoring people’s choices is to introduce people to the fact that their struggles with weight are not a personal slight against them. To have your biology working against you and then be constantly blamed for it can cause many people to develop guilt and shame around all aspects of eating. At AH, our Rule #1 is to be gentle on yourself and others. We want to push all that guilt, shame, and blame out the door. We feel similarly about the plant vs. animal debate. The first step to finding common ground is to eliminate the finger pointing.
At AH, we try to make it as easy as possible to serve all the different types of eaters at your table, and to encourage everyone to try new things. For example, you can prepare a variety of dishes with the Moroccan Sauce from our cookbook Always Delicious. Moroccan Lamb Stew (Always Delicious page 161) is a fantastic recipe, but not everyone likes lamb. So you might choose Moroccan Chicken (Always Delicious pg 133 or click here for the recipe), with Cauliflower Couscous (Always Delicious pg 211 or click here for the recipe), or you could use the variations in either recipe to make it with tofu instead. That way you can easily prepare the same meal for everyone, and nobody has to feel left out, excluded, or guilty. Not only did we work hard to include vegetarian, dairy-free, egg-free options for all of our recipes, but we also created several of our meat heavy recipes from dishes that were originally vegan! As a chef who spent 20 years working with plant based and specialty diets, vegan and vegetarian options are not a second thought for me.
We Challenge You to Try Something New!
We want you, our wonderful readers, to explore all of the different options in Always Hungry and Always Delicious. I challenge you to try the plant-based variations on some of our recipes. You might discover you like them even more. Our Black Bean Tofu Hash (Always Hungry page 221) is one of our most beloved recipes, from vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Many people tried it as their first introduction to tofu, and have since fallen in love with the versatile plant-based protein.
More than anything though, we hope you are able to use the AH way of eating to honor your guests while still honoring who you choose to be. At an AH table, no one ever has to feel left out.