Adopting a Plant Based Diet: Why and How

OLLI Class for Concord - May 8th 2017 web page:

Jim & Leonora started going "primarily plant based only" a few years ago after watching the film "Uprooting the Causes of Death". The movie outlines the top 20 causes of death in the U.S., and the impact of diet choices on these. The impact so far? We have lost weight (without reducing calorie intake), gotten off of some of the prescription meds (in collaboration with our primary care physician) and discovered a wide variety of delightful dishes and restaurants that satisfy the pallet.

We will watch the documentary "Uprooting the Causes of Death" describing the beneficial impact that a plant based diet(PBD) can have on heart disease, diabetes, cancer, weight loss, etc. We will have discussions, recipes, resources and snacks/examples.

Plant based vs Vegan -- very similar in cuisine, perhaps different in motivations - both are vegetarian (no meat, no fish), both avoid dairy products (milk, eggs, cheese, ice cream) - both agree on the health and environmental benefits -- Some folks reserve "Vegan" as tied to respecting animal sentience -- and avoid using animals or their products -- no honey, no leather, etc. In the context of evaluating food items or restaurant menus, "vegan" should be a clear indication of "plant based", many "vegetarian" options are also actually vegan (no dairy/eggs). One place this makes a difference is in items that have very small amounts, typically of eggs or milk, we have not avoided these where as those with purposeful veganism would avoid these, also the question of "what do you do when there is not a vegan option?" results in different responses based on this distinction. In the "Intelligence 2" debate, the question was asked about use of animals that die naturally -- the "health" PBD folks would decline the use of the meat; a 'respect animals' vegan might eat it (I suspect not, but this was a debate format clarifying principles, not behaviors) -- a more realistic test is the emergence of "alternate meats" -- some created from plant based materials, others created from 'cultured' animal cells (presumably not providing the health benefits of plant based foods.)

Some of our considerations in moving to this cuisine variation were: "is it easy to do?", "do we get food we like to eat?" --- if you are willing to invest a little time in cooking, then it is much easier than if you want to work with prepared meals -- items like legumes (peas, beans, lentils), nuts and tofu are obvious sources of protein, but also many grains work as well - Quinoa is high in protein, and Dunk'n Donuts multi-grain bagels are as well (and you can get them with peanut butter or jam rather than cream cheese.)

Processed foods? -- if you don't understand the ingredients on the label, you probably don't understand what it is doing to you -- both plant based and omnivore nutrition experts recommend you avoid processed foods. "shop the periphery of the grocery store, there isn't any food in the middle' -- The ideal healthy target is "Whole Food, Plant Based" (WFPB) as far as we can tell.

Local event(s) --

  • VegFest (2017 April 22), at Manchester Community College
  • Farmer's Markets (click for state wide listing) - RockSalt Ice "Cream" supplier shows up (retail in Sanborton)
  • CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture -- supports local farms, get local crops, "in season" -- State wide listing)
  • National: Vegetarian Summer Fest, 2017 in Johnstown, PA


  1. Dr. Michael Greger, Uprooting the Causes of Death (55min documentary)
    1. web site:
    2. Book: "How Not to Die", 2016 - video on Greger's web site (88 min) and on Youtube
    3. Why vegans die of heart failure ... see biochemical description by Greger, key points: you need B12, and Omega-3
    4. Uprooting the Causes of Death in the UK (2016) -- UK version in case you want to see what folks are dying for in the UK
  2. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (
    1. Food for Life resources and advocacy
    2. Foods for Protecting the Body & Mind: Dr. Neal Barnard
  3. Forks over Knives; Drs. Cambell & Esselstyn (web site, movie, cookbook, receipies on site)
    1. Extended Interview version (2 hrs) on Youtube
  4. Related authors/plans:
    1. Dr. Dean Ornish author, speaker, advocate
    2. Dr. Pritkin since 1979
    3. Dr. MacDougall
  5. Websites:
    1. Dartmouth Univ. site on arsenic in rice (tracking food is not just watching for benefits)
    2. -- Plant Protein Chart
    3. Who does the US dietary guidelines, food pyramid, product labeling requirements??
    4. World Health Organization (WHO)
    5. .. not vegetarian, but "shunning" meat and dairy fats
  6. US News & World Report comparison/ranking of diets, 2015 [Rates DASH as #1 overall, Ornish, Vegetarian, Vegan, and some commercial ones etc.]
  7. Seventh Day Adventist Diet (they have been doing a vegetarian thing for a long time, and investing a lot in medical care/research/programs)
  8. Intelligence 2 debate: don't eat anything with a face (Can't say the team opposed to the proposition was particularly good in this forum)
  9. Recipe sources/books
    1. Veganomics
  10. Diabetes Association web site reference "...research on vegan diets has found that carbohydrate and calorie restrictions were not necessary and still promoted weight loss and lowered participants' A1C."
  11. Bone Fractures and Dairy: Swedish Study, Harvard Study,
  12. The Nurses Study (Harvard/Framingham) and
  13. Other movies include:
    1. In Defense of Food; Michael Pollan; PBS Documentary (2016) - a perspective on what works for folks demonstrating good health in various parts of the world.
    2. advocates "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" (He defines "food" as things your grandmother would recognize (not processed stuff))
    3. Vegucated (2010) takes three carnivores for a six week vegan commitment, includes graphic scenes in slaughter houses
    4. Cowspiracy - impact of cows on the environment
    5. Eating You Alive, documentary relating disease and diet
    6. FoodMatters - promoting the concepts of orthomolecular medicine (mega-vitamin therapy)
    7. Veganism under attack - vegan 2016

Doing PBD in NH

  • Restaurants
    • Most Asian (Chinese, Thai, etc.) restaurants have tofu/vegetarian options (mostly vegan) and some are quite good
    • Concord
    • Manchester
    • Beyond
  • Food Stores
    • Concord
      • the Concord Food Coop has the Indigo Cafe (vegan) items, mostly bakery; but also a good selection of prepared foods and materials
    • Manchester
      • A Market on South Willow has a selection of materials, some prepared items - maybe not enough for a special trip
      • Whole Foods has good materials - not a lot of relevant prepared items
    • Target has a surprisingly good selection of prepared/frozen options
    • Shaws, Hannafords, Market Basket -- all have increasing availability of prepared/frozen items
    • Trader Joe's (Nashua) has some store brand items - including a vegan pizza that is fairly good
  • Brands (for prepared items) (Note many qualify as processed foods, and some are vegetarian not vegan)
    • Gardin has some really great vegan (in some cases just vegetarian)
    • - we can't find their "Pork-less buns" in NH (did in Florida), and their breakfast scramble wrap is really great IMHO.
    • Quorn does some neat things with "mycoprotien" (from bacteria vs soy/...), often in combination with eggs or milk
    • Morning Star also does some good meat-less options, but again often with egg or milk content
    • SO delicious has some great "ice cream" alternatives - often with coconut milk, some with almond or cashew