How does FARM STEW define plant-based diet?
Professor Hussein, (from a Nutrtion Department of an African University)
I also appreciate your comment. It is important to remember that people define a "plant-based diet" differently. Here's a quote from Wikipedia.
A plant-based diet is a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, but with few or no animal products. The use of the phrase has changed over time, and examples can be found of the phrase "plant-based diet" being used to refer to vegan diets, which contain no food from animal sources, to vegetarian diets which include eggs and dairy but no meat, and to diets with varying amounts of animal-based foods, such as semi-vegetarian diets which contain small amounts of meat.
When FARM STEW uses the term, we are not saying that the diet needs to be vegan. We use an adapted version of a Healing Foods Pyramid developed by the University of Michigan. We adapt it to exclude foods determined to be unclean by both the Bible and the Koran as we are a faith-based ministry and these foods are proven to be highly contaminated in many cases. Those changes are well received in the communities where FARM STEW trainers are deployed, now training over 47,000 people.
FARM STEW also focuses on increasing dietary diversity because what you say about the high percentage of starchy foods seems to be a common element among the world's poor. We use the UN-FAO developed Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women as an assessment and monitoring tool. On that website, there is a very interesting response to the question, "Why is dietary diversity important?" It reads:
Different foods and food groups are good sources for various macro- and micronutrients, so a diverse diet best ensures nutrient adequacy. The principle of dietary diversity is embedded in evidence-based healthy diet patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet and the “DASH” diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), and is affirmed in all national food-based dietary guidelines. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that a healthy diet contains fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains.
A diverse diet is most likely to meet both known and as yet unknown needs for human health. In addition to our knowledge of protein, essential fatty acid, vitamin and mineral requirements, new knowledge about health effects of a wider range of bioactive compounds continues to grow. Considering plant foods alone, it is currently estimated that there are approximately 100,000 bioactive phytochemicals and that “observed health effects associated with vegetable, fruit, berry, and whole grain consumption can likely be explained by the combined action of many different phytochemicals and other nutrients” (Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012. Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers).
I would contend that, as defined above, the plant-based diet has many advantages for all people and has excellent support in the literature.
Professor Hussein, blessings to you in your work to increase the dietary diversity of all people, especially the poor, through your work!
Joy Kauffman, MPH
President and Founder of FARM STEW