Embracing a plant-based, whole-food diet isn't just better for our bodies; it keeps the planet healthy too, writes Brendan Brazier in Thrive Foods, the pro triathlete's third book. And with 200 recipes, many by star chefs, the book makes it even more tempting to eat sustainably.
Q What's a good first step toward the kind of sustainable, nutrient-dense diet you advocate in the book?
A Nutrient density refers to food that’s lower in calories, but higher in micronutrients. The goal is to consume large amounts of micronutrients—vitamins, trace minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants—in as few calories as possible. You get there by eating lots of leafy greens, and smoothies with hemp protein or pea protein. Long-term success is more likely if you start off slow, with one meal, one snack. Your palate will change, and you can appreciate different types of lettuce or other nutrient-dense foods and not feel restricted. Our modern food system is leaving people overfed but undernourished.
Q Overconsumption stresses the environment as well as our bodies. How can we turn the tide against it?
A At a very early grade in school, there should be a class called Food, where you learn about where it's grown and where it's produced. We eat every day; we're the lucky ones in the world. With that comes responsibility. All of us have to live with the consequences of using up a lot of resources to produce our food.
Q With food prices climbing, how can we eat a sustainable diet without breaking the bank?
A It's actually cheaper to get micronutrients from whole plant foods. You can feel full, and nourished, on $2 worth of quinoa.