Our Culinary Philosophy

fruits-market-colors-largeAs explained in the PlantPure Nation, film, the term “PlantPure” was selected to describe a whole food, plant-based diet because it is suggestive of nature. Our focus is on the following whole foods that are minimally processed:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Legumes/beans
  • Ingredients and meals that have no added oil and are low in sugar and salt

Importantly, “PlantPure” does not mean that people should be purists in their eating habits. There is a school of thought in the plant-based community that salt and sugar, as well as nuts, avocados, and other plant foods high in natural fat, should never be consumed. We do not subscribe to this strict restriction.

Nuts, seeds, avocados, and other whole, plant-based foods high in natural fat are essential to a healthy diet. Scientific research is increasingly demonstrating the fact that healthy natural fat is important for our well-being. The argument against natural fat in whole, plant-based foods is the same reductionist thinking used by the dairy industry to advocate for milk consumption. Milk contains calcium and calcium is a building material for bones, so the dairy industry has argued for years that we should consume milk. Yet, science is now showing that milk and other foods high in animal protein cause calcium to leach from the bones and then get excreted in the urine.

Biology is complex — infinitely so. What matters most is not the presence of calcium in milk, but the ‘wholistic’ (“w” has been added to ‘holistic” intentionally) effects of milk on the body. Likewise, what matters most with plant foods high in fat, such as nuts and avocados, is the way they are utilized in context by the body, and research is showing these plant foods to be beneficial in averting chronic health conditions and improving vitality and wellness. We do not advocate eating more than a modest amount of these high-fat plant foods — for example, just a handful of nuts with your oatmeal or cereal in the morning, or half an avocado with your salad for lunch — but we need these foods in our diet.

Salt and sugar are in a different category. Adding extra salt and sugar (beyond what is naturally found in whole foods) is not essential to our diet and, in fact, has been associated with adverse heart conditions and diabetes. We believe it is important, however, that people should feel free to eat food with flavors they enjoy. We will not change the world around the idea of plant-based nutrition if we tell people they must give up the food they love for food that tastes bland.

The culinary philosophy adopted by PlantPure Communities allows for modest levels of added salt and natural sugars through foods like dates and raisins, based on the assumption that as people experience the benefits of this diet, they will do their best to reduce these ingredients as much as possible over time. Taste preferences change, so once we become accustomed to a low-salt and low-sugar diet, we discover that these flavors “pop” at low amounts. Our culinary philosophy also allows people the opportunity to have, now and then, a fun dessert and even a glass of beer or wine.

The only ingredient we advocate avoiding as much as possible is added oil. This ingredient is not necessary to the creation of great-tasting meals; it is possible to create great flavor without oilAn argument can be made that very small amounts of oil (like a splash of sesame oil in a kale dish) is likely to do little or no harm, but the problem is that many people have difficulty determining where to draw the line with oil. A little can easily turn into too much so we suggest just staying away from it.

PPC Advisory Board member, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, has long maintained that you get most of the potential health benefit from dietary change simply by moving to a whole food, plant-based diet. Becoming a purist, such as by removing nuts completely, is not likely to create much additional gain, and whatever gain might appear pales in comparison to the gain from going fully plant-based. In his view, we can gain more than 95% of the potential health benefit by moving to a whole food, plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Folks can quibble about whether there are incremental benefits by removing plant foods, such as nuts, but why do this when the cost may be a diet deficient in flavor and diversity? Our goal is to launch a movement that transforms society and gives people ample options to enjoy their meals through a flavorful and healthy array of plant foods.

There are two impulses present in many of us. One is the impulse to be “right” and to judge those who are “wrong.” The other is the humble, nonjudgmental impulse to love. We favor the second, knowing that love is the more powerful and more transformational choice. Our approach is to be inclusive and respectful, welcoming people from all backgrounds and at all different stages in their journey to improved well-being. And, we love our neighbors and the larger world when we give them a plant-based option that is joyful.

This statement was reviewed and approved by our science advisor, Dr. T. Colin Campbell.

Disclaimer: The information shared by PlantPure Communities (PPC) is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you are on medication and are changing to a whole food, plant-based diet, you should discuss with your health care provider the changes that you are making in your diet and how these changes may require an adjustment in medication dosage. It is important that you work with your doctor to monitor your condition and medication dosage during your change of dietary practices. 

Updated: January 16, 2017

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