The Myth of the Mediterranean Diet goes back to Ancel Keys, who decided that the meals served in Greece during Lent was THE ideal diet. Yep, it’s stupid, but it took off and now people believe it. How does the saying go? If enough people repeat something that never happened, it will become the truth and the law.
The Real Mediterranean Diet
Most of the people of my generation (Boomers I born 1946-1954 and Boomers II born 1955-1964) know the real Mediterranean diet. But the folks born later haven’t the clue and they believe the propaganda of the plant-based culture pushed by various interest groups from the Seventh-day Adventists to Bill Gates to crazy rich billionaires that own processed food companies, pea protein, seed/vegetable oils, soft drinks, cereal, etc. (If you have links to these folks, send them and I will include them here.)
The modern concept of the Mediterranean diet is what it has never been before: plant based.
I spent a lot of time in the Mediterranean since I have some family there and I tell you I never ever seen a single vegetable on any of my plates as I grew up! Antipasto yes, but actually the stuff on that plate is fruits: peppers, tomatoes, olives, these are all fruits. Antipasto is made of fermented fruits.
So what was the real Mediterranean diet like?
What To Eat
Meat, and lots of it. We need not be reminded too much that prosciutto was already consumed by this part of the world in Celtic times. Why would they have figured out how to store pork legs without refrigeration if people ate lettuces and greens for their meals?
Cheeses originate from even an earlier era, unknown in exact origin but it was consumed already widespread by the Roman Empire. So both cheeses and red meat were the staple food in the original Mediterranean way of life, in addition to fatty fish and other seafood, since the Mediterranean is, after all, a region of several countries around and inside the Mediterranean sea.
Where Does All The Nonsense Mediterranean Diet Come From?
The origin of the Mediterranean Diet dates back to Ancel Keys, a scientist, who was convinced that heart attacks are caused by eating fats and cholesterol–all of which are completely incorrect. Nonetheless, here is today’s definition of the Mediterranean Diet from the dictionary:
“a diet of a type traditional in Mediterranean countries, characterized especially by a high consumption of vegetables and olive oil and moderate consumption of protein, and thought to confer health benefits”(from https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/)
Note the emphasis on plants, which I have never seen while there as a child.
Similarly to the Mediterranean Diet lies, so it is with the Blue Zones, of which Mediterranean is part.
One of the Blue Zone regions is Ikaria in Greece and one of my readers shared this cute short video with me, which explains that one of the reasons why the Blue Zone are considered to be plant-based is because the food questionnaires used in the original studies didn’t contain any questions associated with the foods they really ate, such as dairy, goat, lamb. sheep:
(Thanks George for the link!)
Okinawa is often brought up as the prime example of how good a mostly plant-based diet is for humans. There is only one problem with it. Okinawa originally was very famous for its pork dish Refute, prepared for longevity (see here). During WWII nearly 100% of their pigs were killed and so the people there started eating plants to avert starvation. Today, though they still eat pork, many eat also plants, something they didn’t eat prior to the war.
Mistakes can often be made, even in science. But…
Once we know that the information is fake, shouldn’t we do something about it? Why do people believe that the Mediterranean Diet and the Okinawan diet was full of vegetables? Where does all this come from?
I have a suspicion: I had a discussion the other day with a Facebook friend who lives in the Netherland, who was giving to me a very convincing argument in favor of ancient humans spending their time eating mostly plant-based, up until I asked him to look out his window–this was in the dead of winter, in December–to see if he could grow any vegetables in the winter there.
He looked at me bewildered! Yep! He never gave a thought that he couldn’t have eaten vegetables in the middle of winter as little as 150 years ago! There simply weren’t any prior to transportation and artificial heated hot-houses. So what did people eat in the Netherlands in the winter? Meat and fish! You bet!
People also don’t remember that humans evolved through an ice age that lasted from 300 thousand years ago up until 25 thousand years ago! We have plenty of cave paintings of hunters with bow and arrow killing megafauna, like the mammoth, but none fighting with broccoli or lettuce. Isn’t this a hint that humans aren’t vegetarians?
Comments are welcome, as always, and are moderated for appropriateness.