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Healthy Paleo Coalition Challenging Vegan-Based Whole Foods Agenda

You might recall a blog post I wrote back in February 2010 called “Low-Carb Community Responds To Whole Foods Exclusively Marketing A Low-Fat, Vegetarian Diet” detailing the popular health food chain’s “Health Starts Here” campaign heavily promoting vegan and vegetarian diets. Then in March 2011, I did a follow-up blog post entitled “Whole Foods Offers Customers ‘Customized Nutrition Plan’ Pushing A Vegan Agenda” where I exposed how blatant their pro-vegan propaganda had truly become. It seems this hasn’t settled well with certain members of the Paleo and low-carb communities and has instigated the formation of a brand new online petition campaign you should consider being a part of known as the Healthy Paleo Coalition.

The self-proclaimed “mission” of this exciting new initiative is to counter the “severely biased towards a vegan diet” agenda that Whole Foods Markets supports and claims is “the healthiest diet” for their customers to be eating. The Healthy Paleo Coalition hopes to create “a balance within the Whole Foods Market healthy eating recommendations.” Here is the crux of their concerns about these monolithic plant-based guidelines at Whole Foods:

While we applaud their efforts to educate people away from processed foods, we also find their program grossly lacking a basic understanding of bioindividuality where diet is concerned. We feel that healthy Paleo lifestyle recommendations need to be included in the Whole Foods Market healthy eating guidelines as an additional option for those who don’t want to adhere to current Whole Foods Market recommendations or who have already experienced health problems related to vegan and low-fat diets.

They’re not expecting Whole Foods to give up their “Health Starts Here” program, but are merely suggesting that they “expand it to include additional dietary principles that may work better for individual customer needs.” They note on their testimonial page from people like Health Paleo Coalition founder Erin Shriver and others that eating a low-fat and/or vegan diet has caused harm to their health. Additionally, they note that there is little concern over the negative impact of grains on health.

Vegans, low-carbers and Paleo advocates “all have the same fundamental concerns about health and the environment.” By including the Paleo lifestyle in their “Health Starts Here” program, the Healthy Paleo Coalition believes Whole Foods will be “much better equipped to educate the individual by giving them choices directly related to their concerns and thereby creating awareness and helping an increasing number of stakeholders make better lifestyle decisions that they can sustain.” The goal is to see “an openness to dialogue about this issue” sooner than later. They’re hoping to do that through their petition to Whole Foods that states the following:

Dear Whole Foods Market,

We are a group of health conscious individuals who request that you adopt healthy Paleo lifestyle recommendations as part of your Health Starts Here initiative. By excluding Paleo and traditional foods lifestyle education as part of your core program materials, you are alienating a large part of your customer base who do not thrive on your current recommendations.

We feel that if you are truly interested in the health of your stakeholders, you will come to realize that not everyone thrives on vegan-centric diets; and to deny thorough inclusive education to stakeholders, you are merely focusing your efforts on a personal vegan-centric agenda rather than recognizing the individualistic nature of dietary needs.

Inclusive education on a variety of whole food healthy eating habits is necessary for customers and Team Members to make informed decisions about their wellness; and although you are doing more than most other grocery retailers, we know and trust that you can do better by providing a spectrum of educational tools for your diverse customer base.

Transparency is a word that is often tossed around at Whole Foods Market, unfortunately it seems that the issues where transparency is warranted are cherry-picked to suit the WFM corporation, not the customers and team members. Health Starts Here is one of those areas where transparency is sorely lacking and is clearly biased toward vegan-centric diets as the best diet for everyone.

As individuals who prefer not to argue with reality, we urge you to review the data that supports Paleo lifestyles and realize that the reality of the situation is that a vegan-centric diet clearly isn’t the healthiest diet for the majority of your stakeholders, nor is it necessarily the most environmentally friendly.

While we commend your efforts to encourage your stakeholders to adopt healthier lifestyles through nutrition education, we feel that the current Health Starts Here initiative is based on faulty and incomplete science, and it’s foundation is based on the personal beliefs of few.

Please consider:

* Including Paleo and traditional food educational materials in your Health Starts Here core book list.

* Revising the current all-male, vegan Scientific and Medical Advisory Board to reflect the diversity of your customer and team member base.

* Additional partnerships with Paleo and traditional foods experts and authors to create programs other than the heavily promoted, vegan Engine 2 28-Day Challenge.

* Including Healthy Eating Specialist training that encompasses a spectrum of sustainable healthy eating styles.

* Including a variety of Team Member immersion programs as options for those not interested in or unable to sustain the current all-vegan program options.

* Revision or removal of the misleading ANDI Scoring system. Considering that the ANDI scoring system omits vitamins A, D and K, DHA, EPA arachidonic acid, taurine, iodine, biotin, pantothenic acid, and vital minerals like sodium, chloride, potassium, sulfur, phosphorus, copper, manganese, boron, molybdenum and chromium. We find this to be a misleading and biased approach to scoring what is branded as healthy vs. unhealthy in WFM stores.

* And, as a bonus, please consider removing canola oil from your prepared foods departments and replacing it with a healthier natural fat. Do you have any idea how unhealthy that stuff is?

Does this sound like something you’d like to support? Learn more about the flaws in the “Health Starts Here” campaign from Whole Foods Market and connect with other like-minded people on this at the Healthy Paleo Coalition Facebook page. If you would like to be involved in this effort, contact Erin at Info@HealthyPaleoCoalition.com or use this contact page. And by all means, SIGN THE PETITION!

  • Dave

    Considering how Veganism is a religion, and also considering how heavily invested Whole Foods is in promoting it, I’m not at all confident that the Paleo community will have a positive effect on WFC. I think I’d rather shop at Wal-Mart instead.

  • fritz cloninger

    meh… whole foods can sell whatever they want. I simply don’t shop there much anymore.

  • Margaretrc

    This is a noble and laudable effort, and I will probably sign the petition, but don’t hold your breath. Whole Foods, like pretty much any grocery store, depends heavily on selling its myriad processed foods which take up more space than anything else in the store and the Paleo diet, of course, eschews processed foods. So, in essence, by encouraging any of its customer base to consider the Paleo diet as healthy, it will be encouraging them to skip all their processed food isles (which I do, anyway!) and buy only from the outskirts of the store. Not likely to happen. I don’t go to Whole Foods for their educational materials or their processed foods. I go there strictly for their grass fed/pastured meat and dairy and, when I’m there for that, I may buy some organic produce/frozen vegetables if needed. That’s it.