Last weekend I was in the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) office, joined by 20 other people learning about the many benefits of proper nutrition. It may not sound exhilarating, but there was a level of excitement and energy in the room that was felt by everyone and it was too obvious to deny. We are the latest group of people, passionate about a plant-based lifestyle, to be chosen as Food for Life cooking and nutrition instructors for PCRM.
We all come from various areas of the US, one person from Beijing, China, and we all have a different story of how we ended up here. But there is one common denominator amongst this eager, diverse crew. It’s not just that we are all vegans or that we have experienced life-changing benefits solely from modifying what we shove in our mouths. It’s that we all have an inextinguishable drive to educate as many people as possible about the enormous value a plant-based lifestyle can offer. We are all bottled lightning, knowing we cannot let this be our secret.
One of my goals as a Food for Life instructor is to emphasize that the answer to this question is largely within a person’s control. The National Vital Statistics Report released this past January (Volume 60, Number 4) identified the preliminary data on causes of deaths in 2010. What is most discouraging is that the top four cases of death are preventable, with accidents making number five on the list. If you include Diabetes (#6) and Alzheimer’s (#7), that sums up to 91% of all deaths in the top 15 causes of deaths.
The clinical evidence that is presented in the Food for Life program shows the compelling proof that the top 4 causes of death are highly correlated to the low fiber, high-fat diet, nutrient-void but calorically dense meals found on most American tables. There is additional clinical evidence that Alzheimer’s and Diabetes have much to do with diet as well. Where we find ourselves on the timeline is more of a choice than many realize. For most of us, our fate is predominantly dictated by what we put on our plate.
As I sit in the Atlanta airport, making my connection to go home, a mom not-so-jokingly tells her pre-teen son that the cheese on the bacon cheese fries they are sharing isn’t real but rather cheese flavor chemicals. I’m beyond frustrated, but not necessarily with the mom; it’s not her fault. My frustration stems from a culture that has evolved to trivialize poor nutrition, not allowing people to make informed decisions. I immediately think of a lecture given by plant-based advocate and Registered Dietician extraordinaire, Jeff Novick. He stresses “We can’t fix what we don’t admit”. I’ll add that we cannot admit to something when we are fundamentally unaware there is an issue.
I’m excited, motivated, and proud to be part of a Food for Life team that is committed to level the playing field of health, empowering people as we deliver crucial nutrition education to our communities.
Photo credit: PCRM