Phytotarian is a term that Nutrition Coach Thom Quinn coined in 2008 while working with several executives on improving their diet, health, and fitness as they disliked some of the political, social, and cultural baggage associated with the words ‘vegan’ and ’ vegetarian’.
Phyto is prefix that simply means ‘plant’.
The basic tenets of a being a phytotarian include:
- Choosing whole foods.
- Eating mostly plants.
- Emphasizing a diet which contains a high level and wide diversity of phytonutrients.
Phytonutrients are produced by plants (and ONLY by plants) and many seem to have amazing properties that actually enhance human health. Although some well-known phytonutrients are antioxidants, many have other functions. Some appear to interact with DNA in positive ways.
Many phytonutrients are denatured by high heat, so eating raw plants for part of the diet is one of the best ways to insure that you consume enough of these vital nutrients in sufficient quantities.
Adopting a phytotarian eating style is different from being a vegan or vegetarian as one can eat mostly plants and still have animal products in a very small quantities, if desired (yet some phytotarians never eat flesh). Regardless, 95% of the time, the daily eating style of most phytotarians is actually identical to a committed vegetarian or vegan.
The phytotarian concept is similar to the related concept of flexitarian; however, the emphasis is on an eating style that consciously maximizes phytonutrients and fiber, both which are found only within plants.