I’m not a fan of diets. Despite having ghost-written many diet books over the years, I don’t follow any rules beyond basic good nutrition, or, as food writer Michael Pollan put it: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
But there are many sensible prescribed eating plans out there (let’s not call them “diets” which implies a clear ending point after a weight loss goal is reached). US News & World Report has released its annual diet rankings, which for the first time include the best plant-based diets. Three of the top 10 contain no animal products at all, while the rest are nearly, though not fully, vegetarian.
The Mediterranean Diet — which in addition to fruits and vegetables, features a lot of yogurt, nuts, fish, and whole-grain bread — took first place in the plant-based category. It is followed by Dawn Jackson Blatner’s Flexitarian Diet, a flexible approach to vegetarianism, and then Dean Ornish’s Diet, a low-fat, heart-healthy eating regimen bolstered by exercise, social support, and stress management techniques. The vegan options — which contain no dairy, fish, or eggs — ranked at the bottom of the list because they’re strict, hard to follow, and pose a challenge to getting all essential nutrients.