Weight Loss and Better Health? Plant Based Nutrition!
Rarely can we find a solution that is as simple and easy to implement in order to lose weight, increase our health and wellbeing and reduce serious health risks, as the blessing of plant based nutrition. Sunday evening I indulged in a favorite past time—watching TED talks, and I was very impressed by the talks being given on the blessing of plant based nutrition. Here are a few highlights. I will leave the links to the talks at the end and you can look them up yourself and enjoy!
Rip Esselstyn is a retired fire fighter. He talked about how destructive fires are and compared the damage a fire does to what he referred to as the “five most dangerous dragons” of health care that consume 75% of health care costs. These are heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, and obesity. He then presented his thesis that plant based nutrition is our hope to reverse this, that basing our food intake on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds has been shown to drastically reduce the risks of these diseases. He then told the story of s 28-day experiment he helped implement in a firehouse in Austin, Texas. They enrolled the support of the community in this experiment, and he stressed the importance of having lots of support from family and community when you are trying to change your diet to a plant based diet. At first there was a lot of resistance from the firefighters because plant based food did not seem “manly.” He said he had to debunk the misconception of red meat being equal to manhood. His most effective tool in doing this was showing the results of studies that indicated meat as contributing to erectile dysfunction. Now he had their attention, he had to deal with their love of dairy products, especially cheese. The idea of giving up cheese was really difficult for these pizza eating men. Finally, he outlined all the bad things cheese was doing to them and told them, “Look, you are in a dysfunctional relationship with cheese–kick it out of your life”. You really can get everything you need from plants.
Rip outlined four things that are needed in order to change to a plant based diet: support, routines, education, and surrounding ourselves with great foods. He then showed pictures of the wonderful foods they were now eating: breakfast bowls with plant based milks, spelt blueberry pancakes, quinoa and fruit, oatmeal waffles with applesauce and fruit, plant strong pizzas, portobello mushroom fajitas, lentil oat loaf, macaroni and not cheese, red lentil sloppy joes, bean and grain burgers, red curry tofu stir fry, three bean chili, kale ceviche salad, sweet potato lasagna, black beans and rice extravaganza with tomatoes, green onions, corn, etc., dark chocolate oatmeal cookies, chocolate mousse, date nut crust fruit pies, and a variety of fruits. These dishes certainly looked appetizing and made me want to cook something plant based up right then!
Summarizing his experiment, he stated that palates were changed and metabolisms improved. Those involved in the experiment lost weight and felt exponentially better. He said they also enjoy their food more because they have developed a taste for foods where they can notice nuances in flavors, textures, colors, etc. He then stated that only 6% of our current diet is healthy, and we simply MUST change how we eat. Find support, establish routines, educate yourself, surround yourself with healthy foods and take the 28-day challenge. This is NOT about will power or deprivation. This is about EMPOWERMENT.
If our own health and the rising costs of health care are not sufficient motivation, perhaps adding saving the planet from destruction can help. Brian Kateman gave a TED talk outlining how eating meat affects the environment. The costs of maintaining and marketing livestock and other animals is enormous. Or if you have a humanitarian heart, Ors Shavit addressed the inhumanity of the dairy and meat industries. She lamented that the diary industry and the meat industry are the same industries that enslave and ultimately kill innocent, feeling beings, making the cost of dairy and meat products very high. The costs to our health are also very high. Summarizing, she suggested that by not hurting others, you also stop hurting yourself and vice versa. She added her testimony that the livestock industry is one of the most polluting and wasteful industries on the face of the earth. Her motto is change who you eat to change the world.
Brian Kateman also addressed the concerns some people have of being labeled a vegan or vegetarian. Apparently studies have shown that people who are asked if they are vegan or vegetarian always say no even if they eat very little meat. He spoke about the social stigma of those labels and suggested how we as a society can all eat less meat without becoming a vegetarian or vegan. He stated that the seemingly innocuous ways to describe how we eat conjures deep mental associations. He suggested we create a new word for the large number of people who do eat meat but only sparingly and who are really trying to cut down on their meat consumption while not strictly eliminating it altogether. At first he suggested the term “flexitarian” but expressed a concern that flexitarian sounds weak and noncommittal. Finally he came up with the term “reducetarians” for those who try to eat less meat. Reducetarianism is inclusive of vegetarians and vegans and all who are committed to reducing their consumption of meat. To summarize, he emphasized that we do not need to be in a boxing match for moral superiority. We all care about the increased well being of our health and the environment. We can all become reducetarians and support and encourage each other in the effort to have a more plant based diet.
It was a great TED talk evening! I am not a big meat eater, but I am certainly more committed now to being a better reducetarian and loving and eating plants instead of animals and animal products. Going back to what those fire fighters learned about how to effectively do this: find support, establish routines, educate yourself, and surround yourself with healthy foods. If anyone takes this on for their own 28-day challenge, I would love to hear how you did and how it worked for you. Here are the links to the talks – Rip Esselstyn’s talk, Ors Shavit’s talk and Brian Kateman’s talk.