Georgia Ede on Vegan Diets, Brain Health, and Productive Discourse

In her latest blog post, Georgia Ede discusses the science around plant-based diets, both in general and specifically with respect to brain health. She says no one has all the answers yet, but certainly everyone should eliminate refined carbohydrates, whether they choose an omnivorous or plant-based diet. She explains why she believes this, and why it’s relevant to brain health.

(“Refined” is a tricky term — she links to another post where she provides a definition.)

Dr. Ede also says some important things about how we should approach such discussions:

If we truly care about the health and well-being of our fellow human beings, we owe it to ourselves and others to stay curious and open-minded. We must take the time to learn and appreciate how the foods we choose to eat operate within the human body, to understand and be honest about the real risks and benefits of the diets we personally eat and professionally recommend, and to acknowledge the limitations of our knowledge.

In my personal life, I am considered crazy–“orthorexic,” to use the clinical term–for eating a mostly-meat diet by a good many people, including some of my best friends and most highly-educated colleagues. As a result, my instinct is to rush to the defense of vegetarian and vegans who are similarly judged for their dietary choices.

In my clinical experience I have certainly worked with people with obsessive-compulsive tendencies and/or eating disorders who adopted a vegan diet because removing meat appealed to their desire to feel in control, virtuous, safe, or perfectly clean and healthy. However, with the slowly rising popularity of low-carbohydrate, Paleo, and elimination diets, I have witnessed the very same motivating factors among some who are using extreme versions of these diets to optimize their body composition, sense of safety, macronutrient ratios, or ketone readings, sometimes to the detriment of their well-being.

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