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Why I Choose Plants

(post, Michaele Kruger)

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Not too long ago, I was sitting in the coffee shop at Barnes and Noble, studying for my midterm (halfway done, yahoo!!!) when I noticed a little old lady sitting at the table next to mine.  She didn't look so old actually, but you could tell by looking in her eyes that she was no longer completely "with it."  I watched her husband slowly and carefully explain to her that he was going upstairs to buy a book and she should not, no matter what, leave the table until he came back to get her.  She mindfully respected his request and waited patiently for him to return.  I got back to work and did not look up again until he was back by her side, again carefully explaining their next few errands and what they had in store for the remainder of their day.  I watched this man lovingly guide his wife to the front door of the bookstore, he didn't hold her hand and she didn't grasp on to his arm, but every few feet he looked back behind him to make sure that she was still there; she was following him and stumbling every step of the way.  

It was right then that I realized why I am so passionate about nutrition.  I am not in search of the secret for immortality. I am not in this field because health is the latest craze. No. I am studying nutrition and the healing powers of food so that each moment that I have on this planet can be the most desirable and pleasurable moment as possible.  

Let me elaborate.  I do not want to be a burden to those I love and I do not want someone else taking care of my every need.  I want to be as independent and as strong for as long as I am here.  Of course, that doesn't mean I don't want a little help every now and then, nor does it mean I don't expect any mental or physical trauma in my life.  What it does mean is that I will do everything in my power to keep myself in vital health for as long as possible.  I am sure that most people agree that they too want these same basic things in life.  We are here, in this life, under these particular circumstances, just this once... I know I want to take care of myself so that I can enjoy it.  What about you?

So that's it, that's why I choose a plant-based diet.  My decision to eat a mostly plant-based diet is based on my desire to live as healthy a life as possible.  This is not to say  that my diet is completely balanced all of the time.  In fact, my relationship with food is one that is always changing and evolving.  Sometimes I eat for pleasure, knowing completely well what it's doing to my body and that my choice might not be the best for my health, and occasionally I eat for recovery, trying to heal an ailment or ease pain, but most of the time I try my best to eat for health.

Eating for Health (an idea created by Ed Bauman in the 1970s) is a diet plan that is not a diet at all.  It is a lifestyle.  It is the consumption of food that is nutrient rich in order to achieve optimal health.  I'm sure Dr. Bauman wasn't the first person to think up this idea. 

The idea is that:

you can eat towards optimal health, 
food can be both cleansing and healing, 
if what you eat can effect your health in a negative way (we've all heard the news about what too much dietary cholesterol and trans-fatty acids can do) than what you eat can also effect you in a positive way, preventing disease,
Dr. Bauman does, however, articulate the idea particularly well: 

"The outcome of health is to actualize one’s potential, physically, mentally and spiritually, based upon education, behavior, and a restoration of our personal and natural environment." 

--Ed Bauman

I choose plants because I desire optimal health for myself.  I encourage others to choose plants because I desire optimal health for those I love.  I educate other on the benefits of a plant-based diet because I desire, as I'm sure we all do, a population that lives longer and healthier lives.  If we do so, we can work longer and take care of ourselves longer, becoming less of a burden to our loved ones and even to our society.  

More and more research shows that the more plants you eat the healthier you will be.  To me, and many other nutritionist, dietitians, doctors, and scientists agree, if you want to be healthy you need to change your diet.  If you change your diet you will not only gain physical health but you will also gain a more positive mental and quite possibly even spiritual well being as well.  There is a pattern that has emerged in modern science, namely: "whole, plant-based foods are beneficial, and animal based foods are not."  

"Plant based foods are linked to lower blood cholesterol; animal based foods are linked to higher blood cholesterol.  Animal-based foods are linked to higher breast cancer rates; plant-based foods are linked to lower rates.  Fiber and antioxidants from plants are linked to a lower risk of cancers of the digestive tract.  Plant-based diets and active lifestyles result in healthy weight, yet permit people to become big and strong" (excerpt from the China Study).  

I am, of course, not suggesting that everyone become vegan or even vegetarian all of the time.  What I am suggesting is that everyone should introduce a little preferably a lot more plants in their diet.  Don't count on chicken for your protein every day. Try rice and beans instead.  Don't let milk be your only source of Calcium. Give kale and sesame seeds a shot.  Dont' be afraid of fats, just eat the right kind (try avocados or nuts and oil).  There is such a large variety of nutritious options in the plant world, mix up your diet and every Monday try giving chicken, pigs, and anything bovine a break. 

"Good health is about being able to enjoy the time we do have.  It is about being as functional as possible throughout our entire lives and avoiding crippling, painful and lengthy battles with diesase.  There are many better ways to die, and to live." 

--T. Colin Campbell, PhD