The Plant-Based Diet Heads to Primetime

plant-based diet

The newest in a long line of weight loss shows finally has a philosophy we can get behind: Z Living’s “The Big Fat Truth” highlights the importance and effectiveness of a plant-based diet – not just for losing weight, but for better health in general.

Industry veteran J.D. Roth of “The Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Weight Loss” fame decided to host “The Big Fat Truth” after two and a half years of following a plant-based diet. After he and his family began their plant-based diet, Roth realized that this was the best way to lose weight and stay healthy – and he wanted to share this realization with others struggling with health issues linked to weight.

“I think it’s no longer guesswork that living a whole foods plant-based lifestyle will not only reduce your risk for most of the chronic diseases and illnesses that are out there, but also reverse the diseases that we have as well,” he says, noting that he can no longer tell people to work off three meals a day of poor eating in the gym.

For Roth, the plant-based way of life is the ideal way to help people overcome their unhealthy relationship with food, something that he and many other experts categorize as an addiction. The first episode features former contestants from “The Biggest Loser” who have put some – or all – of the weight back on. Second season “The Biggest Loser” winner Pete Thomas, who, contrary to “The Big Fat Truth” participants, has managed to keep his weight down, encourages them to replace the foods that they turn to in times of stress with an apple.

“It’s hard to gain the weight back when all you’re bingeing on is apples,” he says.

This technique of replacing one food choice with another isn’t the end goal; after all, participants will eventually need to change their relationship with food, but it’s a great start.

“All diets are restrictive,” says Roth. “And when we’re talking to a food addict about restricting the very thing that they want, you can’t do that forever.”

“When I’m talking about the whole food plant-based way of life, I’m talking about a lifestyle and I think that’s different,” he says, noting that the volume of food that one can consume on a whole foods plant-based diet and conceivably still lose weight is incredible.

But snacking is one thing – meals are another. To make the transition even easier for participants, for the first week, they get all of their meals from Kitchen Therapy, a plant-based meal delivery service.

In the meantime, Roth also teaches people how easy and inexpensive cooking can be on a plant-based diet. In the pilot episode, he challenges one participant him to go out and buy $15 worth of fast food to feed his family of five. Meanwhile, Roth prepares a five-ingredient, $15 meal of protein pasta with lentil Bolognese in even less time.

“Our grocery bill’s been cut in half since we’ve gone this route, because meat’s the expensive stuff,” says Roth of his own experience.

Other participants in the show as the season continues will include groups of diabetics, moms, teachers, and nurses, each of which has a different struggle to overcome, and each of which, Roth is sure, will benefit from a plant-based diet: four of the five diabetics in that episode, for example, were completely off their medications after just ten days on a plant-based diet.

Through the show – and the diet – Roth seeks to help people understand “the psychology of losing weight.”

“I think people put stuff in their heads about what they think is true: ‘Oh, you can’t survive without protein,’ or ‘Oh, it’s quicker to get fast food,’ or ‘It’s more expensive to eat just vegetables,’ and those are all in the category of excuses, to me.”

And even after just ten days on their new diet, participants seem to agree, including Ryan Benson, winner of the very first season of “The Biggest Loser.”

“It doesn’t seem so out of the realm of possibility to have a plant-based, whole food diet for the rest of my life,” he says.

Tune into the new show on Z Living starting with the premiere episode on June 11 at 8pm ET.

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Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.