Still Life with Vegetables

Plant-Based Rationalizations Take Root in the Pandemic

As rationalizations go, imagining huge health benefits from eating more plant-based diets is not terrible. Trisha Pasricha writes in the Washington Post that pneumonia, diverticulitis, diabetes, and cancers are linked to regularly eating meat. She even points to a study of COVID and plant-based diets to illustrate how beneficial such diets might be:

In a study of over a half-million survey participants published in September in Gut, scientists found that eating healthy plant-based foods reduced the risk of severe covid-19 by 41 percent, even after controlling for a number of factors.”

So with suggestions of such major health benefits, it’s not too surprising that plant-based eating has gained ground during the pandemic.

Overselling a Correlation

Now it’s true that Pasricha goes on to temper the expectations of a plant-based diet to save you from COVID. “The analysis could not account for all possible external influences,” she writes. “Wearing masks and getting the vaccine are the most effective ways to reduce individual covid-19 risk,” she adds further down in her article.

But still, the fuel for rationalization is there up front. Why not eat more plants if you can prevent COVID, cancers, pneumonia, diverticulitis, and diabetes by doing so?

It’s Working

Who are we to argue with such great food marketing? Plant-based food schemes are selling like vegan hotcakes.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by beagonzalezleon (@foodlife.bybea)

When Panda Express launched its plant-based orange chicken, it sold out almost immediately. Healthy eating was never so sweet, sticky, and orange until now. Even McDonald’s has rolled out a test of plant-based burgers with plant-based fake cheese. Is it greenwashing? Or hogwash?

No matter. It’s good for the planet if it leads to less carbon emissions to feed humanity. The rationale for a more sustainable balance of plants and animals in our diets does seem well-reasoned. Big food companies get it. They can sell more stuff if they ride this wave.

But the hype that sells it for them gets a little intolerable at times.

Click here for further perspective from Pasricha’s article in the Post. For a view of the corporate rush to profit from this hype, click here.

Still Life with Vegetables, painting by Arthur Segal / WikiArt

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


October 11, 2021