The Most Perfect Diet

In The Most Perfect Diet, I describe why eating a whole food, plant-based diet is the most perfect option we have to dramatically impact our future…both personally and at a global level.

I delivered this expanded version of my 2012 TEDxCONEJO Talk at the 2012 Vegetarian Summerfest, organized by the North American Vegetarian Society, on June 28th.

Here is the transcript:

What if I told you I had a magic elixir???

One that could prevent and reverse almost every chronic disease…

One that could solve the healthcare crisis….

One that would bring more compassion to the world…

An elixir that could help heal the planet’s devastation…

  • slow the destruction of the ozone layer
  • stop rapid deforestation and desertification
  • prevent dead zones from growing in the ocean
  • clean up our air
  • save millions of gallons of water per year
  • and slow the extinction of thousands of species…

What if I explained that my elixir is one that would save billions of animals each year and prevent their pain…

That it could help feed the hungry throughout the world…

That it encourages peace, community, and benevolence…

This potion is free of cost…and there’s plenty for everyone…

Would you believe me that it exists?

Would you be shocked at its simplicity?

Mesmerized by its obviousness?

Eager to try it?

Already implementing it?

Would you be frustrated that nobody had ever told you this information prior to now, like I myself was, when as a teenager, I randomly stumbled across this brilliant book by John Robbins called Diet for a New America and it changed my life forever?

Indeed…this elixir exists everywhere…and it is perhaps one of the sole commonalities we share amongst all the living on Earth. It is readily available to most and I know with confidence that it is the most potent possibility we have to save our future…that of our species, the planet, and life as we know it.

Granted this seems hokey, perhaps. I agree that upon first glance, my proposal sounds implausible…

But hear me out…and then decide…

Eating a whole plant food diet is this magic elixir….the secret ingredient to all of these extraordinary outcomes. Sustaining yourself on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds can and will provide all of the aforementioned benefits.

Health is considered the absence of disease. Medicine is founded upon the principles of treating symptoms. Somehow over the centuries, prevention has been transformed from primary ideology to “alternative” and inconsequential…Diet has been largely ignored in the traditional healthcare systems. Physicians rarely ever ask about what you eat when you come for a checkup or for a particular problem.

As a child, I spent numerous hours in the ER and at gastroenterologists’ offices complaining of severe abdominal pain. I was given fiber supplements and powders, medications, and shrugged shoulders. This went on for many years until, finally, I figured out that I was allergic to many of the foods I consumed on a regular basis. Not ONCE was I asked what I ate or what my diet consisted of…not once…

The reason for this is largely due to what is taught in medical schools and the inability for physicians to spend adequate time with their patients. I have sat in on the nutrition lessons given in medical school and was dumbfounded to witness that the focus and entirety of the education in this critical department boils down to the treatment of deficiency. Medical students are advised to seek out deficiency symptoms…for example, for rickets, provide vitamin D and for goiters, give iodine.

Yet nutrition is so much more than that!

The Most Perfect Diet is a DUALITY: what you eat and what you don’t eat…

….and it lives on a spectrum…

The more health-promoting foods you consume and the fewer health-damaging foods you consume, the more you arm your health!

You are what you eat…at a cellular level, at an immunological level, and in a wholistic sense.  You are also connected to nature and other humans…even other species…via the food you consume. In fact, the only natural way the outside world becomes a part of your body is through the food you consume.

You are what you eat…refers to what happens to food once it enters your body…

Breaking it down at a cellular level:

You are composed of ~10-50 trillion cells…most of which regenerate…a constant state of dynamism…flowing and changing and moving…

Even the bones….We think of the bones as hard, static…well, bones. But even they are constantly releasing and absorbing minerals and in a constant state of flux.

(A disclosure: the brain, heart, and kidneys do not unfortunately regenerate…)

But think of the possibilities if you are constantly reinventing most of yourself all the time!

We now have an abundance of irrefutable scientific data in the literature confirming that a whole food, plant-based diet optimizes your health, helping your cells, organs, and body stave off chronic disease, maintain ideal body weight, enhance exercise performance, and thrive throughout the lifespan…in extraordinary ways, too…

I’ve seen this in my nutrition practice since implementing this protocol over the past 5 years or so. And in the past year, I have had 2 opportunities to see this magic on a grander scale:

The 1st opportunity was last spring, when as Executive Director of EarthSave International, we ran our first Meals For Health Program with the Sacramento Food Bank in CA…We took 21 food bank clients- who live in the middle of a food desert and were afflicted with many chronic illnesses and debilitating symptoms – and put them through a 28-day program…

We taught them how to shop for food, prepare it, enjoy it, exercise…all in a very sustainable way. The results were astounding. After 28 days, 100% of the participants completed the challenge – and with enthusiasm, I might add!

  • — Avg wt loss: 17 lb in 28 days (20 people)
  • 18% reduction in total cholesterol
  • 22% reduction in LDL cholesterol
  • Avg. blood pressure: 138/83 to 129/77 (without meds)
  •  84% reduction in prescription medication use
  • Participants reported an increased sense of energy
  • And an improvement in many chronic non-specific complaints including heartburn, abdominal discomfort, constipation, diarrhea, migraine headaches, joint pain

My 2nd opportunity was in October, when I was asked to be on The Dr. Oz Show…

  • —3 women with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and excess weight
  • 2 days in zoo where they ate raw fruits, veggies, 1 olive per day
  • 3-4 days at home where we added whole grains, legumes, cooked veggies, nuts, seeds
  • Average weight loss: 4 lbs
  • Average LDL cholesterol drop: ~42 points
  • Blood pressure normalized

You are indeed what you eat…

But, you are also HOW you eat…

Breaking it down at a logistical level:

Most people eat three meals per day, give or take a snack or 2.

Thinking about food before it goes into our body is something most of us do not do…as we rush to grab a quick meal, eat on the run, forget to chew well enough, and eat larger-than-ever portions…hence the epidemic success of the fast and convenience food industries!

We are typically reactive with our eating…contemplating how delicious the meal was, or complaining of heartburn or feeling full. Further down the line, we may end up with high blood cholesterol, gout, or type 2 diabetes, all of which are foodborne illnesses.

However, what if we eat proactively…intentional eating, conscious eating…thinking about everything that goes into the making of your food…all the way from the seed to the plate…?

Consider the opportunities if every bite you consume matters in so many ways! If you plan what you will eat and relish the food as you prepare and consume it, you will be eating proactively instead of reactively…I argue that eating a whole food, plant-based diet is inherently, innately proactive…and that it is the most powerful way for us to control so many variables (our health, the state of our planet, the suffering of animals, etc.)….and it’s something we can do an average of three times a day.

An example…when invited to someone’s home to eat, it is polite to ask if you can bring a dish or an ingredient. If the host says the customary “No, thank you,” you might bring flowers or perhaps a bottle of wine as a token of your appreciation.

But, say you are invited to a plant-based potluck, which is extremely common in the plant-based community, as most of you know.

Would someone unfamiliar with this world think differently about what they would contribute to the meal? They may have to research what types of dishes are appropriate and animal product-free. They may even have to shop for different ingredients they had not used previously.

Or perhaps, they could concoct a delicious dish with the ingredients they already had in their kitchen. They may actually love this new recipe.

On the flip side, they may already have preconceived notions about plant-based food because they commonly cook or eat meatless meals…soup, veggie chili, veggie burger, pasta primavera, bean and rice burrito, curry stew, stir fry, etc.

There is something extremely conscious and intentional about preparing a plant-based dish. Often, I hear people recant their tales of trying to make a recipe and finding out that something unsuspecting uses animal products…like sugar (which typically involves bone char as a filter) or wine (which commonly uses isinglass, or fish swim bladders in its processing)…These stories of insight are most always understood to be a positive learning process for them. I also regularly see my clients, students, and readers slowly (or rapidly) adapting to this lifestyle and noticing the abundant community that’s out there, a sense of belonging, of doing something beneficial for the world, and appreciating how uplifting and empowering it is.

Food is….culture, family, history, tradition, nourishment, comfort, medicine…

Essentially, food unifies mind, body, spirit…I want, I’m in the mood for, I feel like having…

But…it is also much greater and grander than self…

Food unifies Earth, sun, water, and you…

…seed is planted, sunlight and water help it grow, it ends up on your plate, you consume it, it goes via your GI tract and is absorbed into your bloodstream, where it becomes part of you, and, ultimately, it ends up back in the Earth…in a beautifully harmonious, symbiotic, and cyclical way.

Food also unifies people…we enjoy meals together, we make business deals while eating, we teach our children social norms and customs when feeding them, we celebrate holidays over festive food, we unite cultures with cuisine.

Breaking bread…

This term has many historical and biblical connotations…but is defined simply as “dining together”… “eating together.” Imagine breaking bread with every single bite you consume…knowing the multiple levels and layers to which you are interconnecting simply with your fork.

I challenge you to:

  • Consider both what you eat as well as how you eat
  • Eat with intention, awareness, and consciousness
  • Change your world and your inter-connectivity with others by basing your diet on whole plant foods…

2016-11-29T15:11:54+00:00 July 10th, 2012|Appearances, Featured|