Meatless Mediterranean Diet

There’s another new study out extolling the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. This one links the Mediterranean diet to a longer life. In just the past few months other studies have linked the diet to lower rates of heart disease, decreased risk of dementia, less asthma in children, and reduced cancers of all kinds. This information is not new. Scientist Ancel Keys noted the benefits of a Mediterranean type diet 50 years ago. But, we are sometimes slow to pick up on good ideas – especially ones that tell us to eat less meat and dairy products. Historically  Americans have liked their fat!

The Mediterranean diet is not a “diet” like the Adkins diet or Jenny Craig or other diets that tend to be short term affairs designed to lose weight. The Mediterranean diet is a holistic way of life and eating that includes physical and mental well being, not just meal plans. Moving your body – walking, gardening, etc. – every day, enjoying meals with others, interacting with family and socializing are all just as important as what food we ingest. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body, and vice versa.

And what about the food? Like a true vegetarian diet, the Mediterranean diet isn’t so much about what foods we don’t eat, but what foods are included. Both diets are rich in vegetables – lots of vegetables and a variety of vegetables – grains, legumes (got to love those beans), fruit – think fresh berries not blueberry pie – nuts, greens, herbs, and olive oil.  There is no denying that eating more vegetables is good for us. Just look at this blog’s header. Everything pictured is included in the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet also includes lesser amounts of fish, dairy, and poultry. Meats are treated like sweets, something to indulge in occasionally. Wine with meals is also part of the diet.  Some interesting things to note: fats are primarily unsaturated and come from nuts and olive oil instead of the animal fats, hydrogenated fats, and dairy common to the typical American diet. Sodas are often fruit/sparkling water concoctions not the overly carbonated, highly sweetened versions we are familiar with.

The Mediterranean diet is not a meatless or vegetarian diet per se, but is easily adapted to a meatless/vegetarian diet since its primary sources of protein are plant based (legumes, nuts, whole grains). At Wine Barrel Gourmet we design all of our products in keeping with the Mediterranean diet ideal, and I personally adhere to a meatless Mediterranean diet. It is not difficult for most people to change their eating pattern to follow a Mediterranean diet/lifestyle.  If however, you are used to eating a highly processed, meat based diet low in vegetables, it may take a little bit of time to switch over to a healthy way of life (and good for you for even reading this blog!). The good news – summer is the perfect time to change your eating habits. All of those things that are so good are available all over the country. At my local farmer’s market this month I can purchase fresh greens, little pickling cucumbers, cherries, blueberries, tiny new potatoes, and some early zucchini. Your growing season may be ahead, or behind, ours, but something fresh should be available. Following a Mediterranean diet, meatless or not, is an easy way to improve your life and your health, and tastes delicious too.

A great source of information about the Mediterranean diet is  Oldways.

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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at and

Comments (2)

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  1. Dieting Meal says:

    In addition, unsaturated fatty acids in olive oil may be beneficial for the heart, damaging oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Dieting Meal

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