First, here’s where I agree with my purist vegan friends:
- A vegan diet most certainly is optimal for the health of individuals. The China Study—the largest epidemiological study in the world—clearly shows that the closer one moves to a purely plant based diet, the less one is afflicted by the diseases of affluence suffered by so many Americans (e.g., obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease).
- A vegan diet is optimal for the well-being of animals, including egg-producing chickens and dairy cows, which experience as much suffering as animals used for meat.
- Finally, studies have conclusively shown that our planet itself would benefit if there were fewer animals producing methane (and thereby contributing to global warming) and polluting our waterways with their waste run-off.
Finally, the 80% vegan diet that I am proposing would come closer than either the strict vegan diet or the standard American diet to the kinds of eating habits of our ancestors and people in traditional communities around the world. Most healthy, traditional diets—think of the famed Mediterranean and Okinawa diets, for example—are mostly plant-based, but include very modest amounts of meat or fish on special occasions.
The question that I would like to raise is whether this sort of more flexible, less dogmatic veganish diet would (1) be more likely to be adopted by the average American, (2) be more likely to be followed consistently, and (3) produce some of the same sorts of benefits as its more rigid counterpart.