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  • wildcatrussell

Plant-Rich Diet

Updated: Dec 25, 2023

Like clothing, diet is an area where passionate climate activists often disagree! Both armed with scientific data, one person may argue that we must all become vegan to survive, while another claims that regenerative farming of animals is our best hope for carbon sequestration.

So I'll start with what we can agree on: eating a diet rich in organically grown vegetables and whole fruits is healthier for our bodies AND the planet. We are growing our own vegetables and buying vegetables from local organic farmers. We could certainly eat a larger volume of vegetables than we currently do! We are adding more greens into our diet, which we both enjoy and are easy to grow here.

We generally eat a vegetarian breakfast. One of us digests oatmeal well, and makes homemade oatmeal for breakfast, along with dried fruit and nuts. The other does better with a fruit, nut, seed, and raw egg-based smoothie. Snacks of fruit, nuts, and carrots also work well for us.

Making our other meals vegetarian is trickier because of our food allergies. We are intolerant of most legumes; we can't eat soy or tofu at all, and chickpeas, pinto beans, navy beans, lentils, peanuts, etc, are also problematic. We are both allergic to wheat, and one of us can't eat much dairy and dislikes eggs, while the other has trouble digesting cruciferous vegetables, garlic, and sweet potatoes. We have discovered that taking digestive enzymes along with the problematic foods helps, except for dairy and gluten. Still, we are much better off largely avoiding the foods we don't tolerate.

Since we are allergic to so many vegetarian protein sources, we are moving toward a Mediterranean diet as a healthy low-climate impact alternative to being vegetarian. The data on the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet is robust, and there are a wealth of tasty recipes available. It also has been shown to be nearly as effective as a vegan diet in reducing climate impact.

To feel less nostalgic for the foods we can't eat, we've found that it helps to list the foods we CAN eat, and to source them fresh, organic, and locally, to maximize our enjoyment of them:

Tree nuts: walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts

Root vegetables: carrots, potatoes, onions, and beets

Greens: chard, kale, arugula, and leaf lettuces

Nightshades: tomatoes, eggplant, and chili peppers

Grains: quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, corn, oatmeal, and oat milk

Squash of all kinds

Herbs, spices, curry, olives, mustard, balsamic vinegar

Fruit, especially berries and citrus



Black beans, green beans, and snap peas (in small quantities with enzymes for both of us)

Eggs, cruciferous vegetables, garlic, and sweet potatoes (in small quantities with enzymes for one of us)

Mushrooms: oyster, lion's mane, etc.

Small amounts of sheep's milk feta and yogurt

Small amounts of locally sourced, ethically produced chicken and pork

Small amounts of wild-caught ocean fish

The Mediterranean diet includes 3 servings of fish per week and 1-2 of poultry. Since one of us doesn't like fish, our plan is to eat mostly plant-based dinners, with small amounts of chicken and pork, and for the one who does like fish to add some sushi or canned tuna at lunchtime, while the other supplements with fish oil pills.

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