Feb. 11, 2022 — When Eric Adams, New York City’s new mayor and avowed vegan since 2017, was outed this week for eating fish, the media went wild and the Twitterverse was quickly deemed the FishGate revelation. After all, if you follow a plant-only diet, eating fish isn’t exactly the definition of pure veganism.
But then again, what’s wrong with mixing diets? Nothing, top dietitians told WebMD after hearing the news.
“Diversifying your diet is completely acceptable and beneficial,” says Christine Gillespie, registered dietitian in Virginia Beach, VA. “Many diets that exclude whole food groups or nutrient-dense food types end up lacking vital nutrients our bodies need.”
Adjusting your diet as your needs change is a great strategy, says Joy Bauera nutritionist dietitian and the Today nutrition and health expert of the show.
“What Mayor Adams is doing is adapting his ‘veganism’ to his lifestyle and food preferences,” she says. “You can call it a ‘pescatarian’ plan (vegetarian diet with fish) or a ‘flexitarian’ plan (part-time vegetarian diet), but it’s incredibly healthy, even though it’s not ‘vegan’ by definition.”
Adams has long been a proponent of the health benefits of veganism. In Finally in good healtha book he wrote that was published in 2020, he says that within 3 months of adopting a plant-based diet, he lost 35 pounds, lowered his cholesterol by 30 points, restored his vision and reversed his diabetes.
He is now on a mission to revolutionize the way New Yorkers approach a healthy lifestyle, including recently adding vegan Friday meals to be served to the estimated 938,000 New York City public school students.
The rewards of veganism
Adams is just one of many interested in being plant-based. In recent years, vegan (and vegetarian) diets have become more popular for reasons ranging from improving your health to saving the planet, Bauer says.
“Some make the decision to give up only meat products like beef, pork and poultry while continuing to eat dairy products and eggs (called vegetarians), or they decide to avoid all animal products, including eggs and dairy products (called vegan), because of a religious or ethical motivation,” she says. “Others are motivated by the health benefits – a plant-based diet is better for the heart and has been shown to reduce the risk of a number of health problems.”
Ultimately, Adams should play a big role in promoting the benefits of this diet, whether he occasionally eats fish or not.
“Whether you choose to go vegan, vegetarian, or simply include more plant-based foods in your diet, it’s key to good health,” says Patricia Banandietitian nutritionist and author of From Exhaustion to Balance. “From fruits and vegetables to nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains, not only are plant-based foods loaded with fiber (provided only by plants), but you get a host of other essential nutrients and phytochemicals for a healthy diet. optimal health.”
If you want to follow in the mayor’s footsteps, the only thing you need to do is watch your vitamin B12 and zinc levels, says Isabelle Smithdietitian in New York.
“These are the nutrients and minerals that may be missing when you follow a vegan diet,” she says. “We always have to be mindful of making sure we’re getting what our body needs.”