So many great points in this article! Many of your messages resonate with my personal experience helping other families to thrive on a plant-rich diet. When I first entered this field, I naively thought that misinformation was the main barrier (e.g belief that plants can’t provide enough protein or iron, that we need dairy for calcium) and that as a scientist (PhD genetics), I could help separate fact from fiction. In reality, even if you give people hard facts that they don’t need meat or dairy, the SOCIAL, BEHAVIOURAL, and PRACTICAL barriers are huge.
Social: I love the point you make (Point 6) that we have to be prepared to reject the norms around us.
Behavioural: A consistent theme in weight-loss studies is that motivation and long-term adherence are perhaps the strongest drivers of success.
Practical: Yes, people need the right information (e.g. focus on calories first, and find the ones that nourish and satisfy you while staying under budget) but they also need simple tools that make it easy to practice this in real life. Even though my expertise is in science, I’ve realized I need do devote time to giving people recipes, skills, and practical tips for eating healthy in the context of hectic family life.
Last but not least, having read dozens of nutritional studies, I agree with your message that calories are king and that there is no magical macronutrient mix. Diets succeed when they allow us to happily sustain a reasonable number of calories, and meet our nutrient needs. The isocaloric sugar studies show this well — cutting sugar does not cause you to lose weight if you replace those calories with those from another source. Sugars make us fat primarily because they end up as ‘excess’ calories on top of our diets. This is most likely to happen with sugar-sweetened beverages, which we don’t seem to ‘count’ mentally.