I’m not a fan of diets. Despite having ghost-written many diet books over the years, I don’t follow any rules beyond basic good nutrition or as food writer Michael Pollan put it, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
But there are many sensible prescribed eating plans out there—let’s not call them diets which imply a clear ending point after a weight loss goal is reached—and U.S. News & World Report released its annual diet rankings today including the best plant-based diets for the first time; just three of the top 10 contain no animal products, while the rest are nearly, though not fully, vegetarian.
The Mediterranean Diet—which in addition to fruits and vegetables has a lot of yogurt, nuts, fish, and whole-grain bread—took first place, followed by Dawn Jackson Blatner’s Flexitarian Diet, a flexible approach to vegetarianism, and then Dean Ornish’s Diet, a low-fat, heart-healthy eating regimen bolstered by exercise, social support and stress management techniques. The vegan options with no dairy, fish, or eggs ranked at the bottom of the top 10 list since they’re strict, hard to follow, and pose a challenge for getting all essential nutrients.
What didn’t make the US News list? The new 8-hour diet from Men’s Health editors that basically gives you permission to eat whatever you want, as much as you want within an eight hour time span every day. For the other 16 hours, you eat nothing. It promises a 15 pound weight loss in six weeks, but clearly couldn’t care less about nutrition.