You’re at Grandma’s house, you eat what Grandma serves you. ~ Anthony Bourdain
In last week’s discussion on how to reduce our risk of heart disease without resorting to pills, I mentioned the Mediterranean diet as one idea to consider. As you may have guessed, lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, and use of tobacco affect our cardiovascular health. Studies have shown those living near the Mediterranean suffer less than most Americans from heart disease. To that end, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that a Mediterranean type diet is often promoted for health reasons (NEJM).
But what exactly is a Mediterranean diet?
Fortunately for us, the folks over at Oldways, a food and nutrition nonprofit, have done a really good job of summarizing the answer to that question via their food pyramid and their eight easy recommendations (source):
- Eat lots of veggies.
- Eat less meat.
- Limit dairy to Greek or plain yogurt and less cheese.
- Eat seafood twice a week.
- Cook a vegetarian meal one to two nights per week.
- Eat healthy fats from sources such olives (e.g., extra-virgin olive oil) nuts, and avocados.
- Switch to whole grains.
- Except for special occasions, limit dessert to fruits.
I was recently asked if I was a “vegetarian” and wanted to state for the record that, although I tend to favor plant-based foods, I am definitely not. For starters, I grew up in a family where my parents taught me that as a guest, unless I thought it was going to kill me (e.g., raw marmot, fugu), to eat what is put in front of you. The photo that heads the blog, for example, is of a meal I was recently served in an Asian mountain village that happens to specialize in, among other things, stuffed grasshoppers. I typically don’t eat insects for dinner but the folks who worked hard to make the dish were positively thrilled I tried it and, in turn, expressed their gratitude by making me feel much more welcome than I would have otherwise.
Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.
Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these water heads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It’s healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I’ve worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold.
I have plenty of friends who have adopted a plant-based diet for legitimate health reasons. Still, I cannot help but wonder if the balance, moderation, and simplicity afforded by a Mediterranean-like diet would accomplish the same goal with a whole lot more happiness?
As to those who adopt a plant-based diet because of their legitimate concerns for the planet, may I suggest the new food of the future: insects? Full of protein and micronutrients, according to the BBC, insects emit lower levels of greenhouse gases and yield 12 times more edible protein (per feed) than beef protein.
Crickets…it’s what for dinner?
On that note, today instead of a music video I’m going to leave you with a short animated Ted video titled “Should we eat bugs?” I’ll be sure to add some new music to our Manufacturing Peace of Mind™ Spotify playlist separately.
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